The tangerine has always been one of my favorite fruits, except for all those annoying little seeds.
So I was intrigued to learn that a seedless form of the fruit has begun arriving in this country from its birthplace in Morocco, a garden spot of many fruits and vegetables.
It seems that this new variety of citrus fruit was discovered some years ago by Father Pierre Clement. He operated an orphanage in Morocco and spent his spare time sampling the fruits of the mandarin trees that grew wild throughout North Africa.
After munching his way through several groves, Father Clement happened upon a clump of mandarins whose flavor he found superior to that of their cousins. An amateur horticulturist, the priest began experimenting with his find and developed a sweet-flavored fruit that bore no seeds.
Named clementine after the priest, it was smaller than the other citrus fruits of this type, had a delightful sweet-sour flavor and the skin was easy to peel.
The clementine caught on quickly in France, which began importing it in quantity. It got the fancy of French children attracted by the small size and absence of annoying seeds.
For some reason, the clementine did not catch on in America until about two years ago. The fruit is now coming in and will be distributed through March.
Here's a tasty recipe for Clementine Pie.
1 unbaked (9-inch) pie shell
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cognac
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
Peel clementines with knife removing all membrane. Slice crosswise and arrange in pie shell in even layer. Beat eggs with 4 tablespoons sugar and cognac. Pour over fruit. Bake on highest oven rack at 450 degrees about 20 minutes or until crust has browned and clementines are almost cooked through. Remove from oven and brush fruit with mixture of remaining sugar and melted butter. Cover pastry border with foil to prevent burning and return pie to oven. Cook 10 minutes longer to glaze. Serve at room temperature. Makes 8 servings.