Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

The citron,
Il cedro,
Sunshine of my resolutions

January 12, 2011

Slices of citron sprinkled with white sugar, Debra Solomon,

To encourage success in completing difficult, unrealistic New Year’s resolutions (like daily blogging and yoga practice), I tend to spike my list with easily attainable, readily achievable, things that happen anyway. Usually these resolutions occupy the esoteric slash culinary realm, like learning to brew beer (2011), or the domestic slash procrastination realm, like learning to knit socks (2010: time consuming yet enlightening). Sometimes my resolutions even occupy a strange category of ancient and exotic craftsmanship, no longer of any real value in the modern world. (Yes, in 2008 I did in fact improve my handwriting, but only for that specific year, and in 2009 I resolved to quit this archaic practice forthwith.)

A recurring favourite, easy as falling off a horse, is the resolution to taste each new fruit and vegetable that crosses my path, somehow still unbeknownst to me. Not even two weeks into the new calendar and I’m already done. This year it’s the citron, bought from a roadside vendor here in Sicily. A bit of rooting around and I discovered that this variety is the Diamante not deemed fabulous enough for use as an etrog but delicious none the less.

Slice of citron, held up against the Sicilian light, dripping with juice, Debra Solomon,

The citron (citrus medica) has in the past been popular for all manner of pharmaceutical, beveragological, confectionary, and perfumerical uses, here il cedro is thinly sliced and sprinkled with white sugar, which draws out the sweet and sour juices of pith and pulp. After allowing time to marinate a bit you eat the slices for dessert. It’s the combination of the green melon-like fleshy pith, the citron’s ragion d’essere, with the hyper-aromatic essential oil infused outer rind, and the juicy sweet and sour pulp, that makes it such a refreshing pleasure to eat. Our friends here keep telling us that it’s heavy on the digestion, but I am learning to occasionally disregard the questionable culinary authority of vegetable torturers and obsessive compulsive pasta eaters.

Slice of citron, held against the Sicilian light, dripping with juice, Debra Solomon,

And inadvertently it seems that I’ve made a blog entry, though I dare not utter which category of New Year’s resolution that this action occupies. 2010 was an incredibly busy year spent initiating the project of my dreams in the realm of urban agriculture. 2011 promises more of the same, but I begin yet again, with the best of intentions to afford myself some time each week to reflect and write about the work of URBANIAHOEVE; Social Design Lab for Urban Agriculture, which is hopefully interesting to the remaining readers of this blog.

Happy New Year!

debra at 13:51 | | post to


  1. Yes, A Post…! Oregon U.S.A. is still ready for your wit…!

    Comment by jeff Pool — January 15, 2011 @ 20:23

  2. OKAY JEFF! HNY and thanks for being such a patient reader! I’ll get started on the next blog about the illegal street bbqs restaurants of Cattania where under cover of night they’re fryin’ up horse meat steaks.

    Comment by Debra — January 17, 2011 @ 9:15

  3. yay, i found you! turns out i bookmarked your blog ages ago and promptly forgot. lovely to meet you in pescara, hope you’re having a marvellous time in sicilia. you’re quite right about hanging out with the eye-ties; ignore any of that rubbish they come out with about digestion. the fact that they regard pasta as a proper and valid health food says it all…and don’t get me started on the vegetable annhiliation cooking technique that abounds…
    happy belated new year!

    Comment by phoebe — January 20, 2011 @ 1:49

  4. YAY Phoebe! So very nice to get your peep! We’re having a marvelous time down here in Sicilia in all respects. And we’re looking forward to a visit from you-alls when we’re back up in the Polar Circle, spring thaw.

    Eye-ties, heh, heh.Haven’t heard that in a while. Glad to hear your echo about the food observation. I was a bit worried that it was just me being a Californian food chauvinist.

    Yesterday we hosted il pranzo for parents of friends (who always invite us over to eat large marine animals) and I made my version of a Dutch meal involving potatoes. The Mom thusly ate a potato-rich secondo, placing each bite on a piece of white bread (which THEY brought with, to ensure that there would be bread since we don’t indulge this insane habit).

    Everyone here has diabetes by the time they’re 60.
    Except for the publishing opportunities, I am not observing Italian/Sicilian food awareness - ALSO because the meals seem to interrupt any work getting done. PLEASE ‘ESSPLAIN!

    BTW - I’ve fallen in love with Catania. Elegant and chaotic and HEAVY. BASALLLLLLLLLLLLLLT!

    Happy New Year to the Trees! (was yesterday).

    Warm regards,


    Comment by debra — January 20, 2011 @ 11:01

  5. Still here, still reading, still following your links and your erudition with glee.

    No pressure! I’ll take whatever you have to tell us. And happy new year and all that, too. Even though it’s March. Ha!

    Comment by ramona — March 11, 2011 @ 1:07

  6. Oh, Poo - It’s spring… Have you ‘Sprung’? Post baby Post…

    Comment by jeff Pool — April 18, 2011 @ 5:50

  7. Citron is great sliced thin with rock salt and anchovies on pizza, but is probably at its best in the liquor from Naxos, Kitron.

    Comment by Daniel Wolf — April 19, 2011 @ 17:09

  8. Is that the Daniel that I know? WOWWIE. I WILL BLOG AGAIN.
    (You see, urban agriculture is very time consuming, and however interesting doesn’t leave a lot of time over for thoughtful (or even not so thoughtful) writing.


    Comment by debra — April 20, 2011 @ 7:32

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