我靠往你坐近一點，把左手擱在你大腿上。墨西哥捲熱得直冒煙，加上溶化了的芝士和醬汁，原本方便的食物，也得慢慢地吃，你吃光了午餐盒，我還在咬着那捲包。你呷了口茶，雙手裹着我擱在你大腿上的手。水果在袋裡，我想給你拿，便把餘下的墨西哥捲都塞進口裡，好騰出手來 – 太大的一口了，差點嗆着。
蜜柑、夏日午後、溫暖笑容、你 – 這才是這水果在我字典裡的詮釋。
Tangerine, mandarin, clementine.
I believe each of them is slightly different, perhaps in terms of the fruit origin or species, but none of them resonates. Tangerine, to me, is a colour more mellow than orange; mandarin reminds me of the lobster linguine I used to enjoy at that hotel before they changed the recipe two summers ago, clementine is the name of Kate Winslet’s role in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
It is mikan that refers to that round little citrus fruit in orange colour harvested in summer.
“Can I see you for a bit?” You shot me this message from time to time, and, minutes later, showed up with a freshly-baked egg tart or, most of the time in hot humid summer days, perspiring iced tea in your hands. In wintertime, I’d get a cup of hot cocoa and roasted chestnuts in a brown parchment bag. My hand-delivered afternoon treats.
You were less random this time. We planned to meet at the park after you saw what I had prepared my lunch box the night before and asked if you could have it. So,I brought you my lunchbox. You showed up with a cajun chicken wrap, a hot chestnut latte and an iced matcha latte.
“I bought you the matcha latte but then I saw this chestnut drink and thought you may like it.” I had no idea how you could get on a minivan with your hands full of food.
We sat on a bench where there was an annoying arm rest between us. I took my lunchbox out, which I figured may be too small for your appetite, and a tumbler filled with warm sencha I brewed earlier. It was steamed rice, veggies and braised beef brisket with daikon that I made. Watching you eat was a joy. You always looked so content and enjoying the food so much that you made the food seem more delicious than it actually was.
Guess I had never met someone who loved eating as much as you do.
I moved closer to you and rested my left hand on your lap. The wrap was piping hot, and the melted cheese and sauce in it made the supposedly easy-to-eat food quite impossible to be finished fast. I was still eating while you finished the lunchbox. After a sip of tea, you wrapped my hand in yours. To free my hand to grab the fruit from the bottom of my bag, I stuffed the remaining bit of the chicken wrap into my mouth – too big a bite to chew on that I almost choked on it.
It was a mikan in season. Sweet and juicy.
“You told me you like mikan. Let me peel it for you.”
“Can you peel it with one hand?”
You took the fruit and told me to peel it from the bottom. Gently nipping in the indented top with my right thumb, the delicate skin started to tear apart. You rotated the mikan while I peeled. It was easier than I imagined. How you turned the mikan and I pushed the finger through made the peeling look so effortless, like it was handled by one single person, not two.
The colour of the citrus flesh was like a summer dawn by the sea; warm and vibrant, and it reminded me of your smile.
I tried to get rid of the pith for you but you said you didn’t mind eating it. The peeled mikan was still in your hand. I took a wedge and put it in your mouth. I put one in mine too.
“Sweet.” You said with that bright smile I adored so much.
In one beautiful afternoon filled with summer heat, you came all the way to give me an iced earl grey tea. The paper cup was perspiring as heavily as your face. When you passed me the beverage your fingers lingered across mine, intentionally I figured. “I was grabbing a drink at the tea shop and thought you may want one too.” You tried to explain your unplanned presence. We had a little chat before I saw you off.
It took unusually long for the elevator to come. I turned around and saw you there, still there behind the glass. You waved at me with a big smile.
“I would do anything for this smiley face.” This line flashed in my head.
So many times when I turned around and saw you, you always returned me with this warm smile. You know, when you smile, there was one more wrinkle around your right eye corner and nose bridge than the left side. I always hoped I’m the only one who spotted this little thing. And it is always these little things, episodes of fleeting moments that seep into my heart.
Mikan, summer afternoon, warm smile, you – the definition of the citrus fruit in my dictionary.
日本蜜柑 3-4 個
熱水 ½ 杯
接骨木花糖漿 ½ 杯
魚膠粉 1.5 湯匙
熱水 1 湯匙
蜜柑果汁 ½ 杯
魚膠粉 3/4 茶匙
- 其餘蜜柑切半榨汁，榨取 ½ 杯果汁，以篩子過濾備用。
Mikan and Elderflower Jelly
Japanese mikan 3-4 pcs
For elderflower jelly:
Hot water ½ cup
Elderflower cordial ½ cup
Gelatin powder 1.5 tablespoon
Sugar To taste
For mikan jelly:
Hot water 1 tablespoon
Mikan juice ½ cup
Gelatin powder 3/4 teaspoon
Sugar To taste
- Peel a mikan. Take a segment out and snip an opening along the hard bit. Gently peel off the membrane. Repeat with the remaining segments.
- Half and juice the remaining mikans until you get ½ cup of mikan juice. Pour it through a sieve and set aside.
- Sweetness of elderflower cordials varies from brand to brand. Taste it to see if sugar is needed. Add gelatin and sugar, if needed, to hot water. Stir till the powder melts.
- Add the gelatin water to the cordial, stir well. Pour it into 2 glasses once the liquid cools down.
- Put it into the fridge and set for 5 hours or overnight.
- Repeat step 3-5 for mikan jelly. Pour the liquid into one shallow container instead.
- Crush the set mikan jelly with a fork, and lay it on the elderflower jelly
- Top the jelly with peeled mikan segments. Ready to serve.
It’s raining outside, crisp and bleak. Three chubby sparrows took shelter on my balcony and I gave them the baguette bits left on my breakfast plate but they flew away. I stayed in, played Damien Rice on vinyl and made apple crumble. Repeat.