January 21, 2011

Ahh, the Bergamot

Like many, many people my only understanding of the Bergamot was some essential oil memory. An oil sold with the likes of Patchouili oil. It had something to do either with hippies or massage therapists.

Thankfully, life provides experiences (and a  foraging neighbor) so my understanding has been refined.

Stick with me here.

In the early 2000s, a lovely gardening man I worked with, used to bring small vases of Freesia into my office in winter. At first I just thought they were beautiful. Over time, I realized that they were beautiful and fragrant and drove me to want a cup of tea. And, as my unintentional explorations led, I found my desire fulfilled in Earl Grey. I've become quite an Earl Grey connoisseur, I enjoy the subtler, not to perfumey types and I like the hint of Bergamot. (See how we came full circle - wait there's more).

I was content with my tea and freesia experiences. Then this summer my friend, the foraging friend, introduced me to a beautiful line of pure and delicious olive oils. They are tres special. The way the olives are harvested and crushed makes for a very complete flavor. Garlic is crushed with the olives (for the garlic olive oil) rather than garlic oils being added to the olive oil. No infusion. Full on flavor marriage. You can learn about the oils here. I'm never going back!

In the end, the flavors hold up in cooking or preparations really well and that pleases me.

One day, I was looking at the Bergamot label and was truly surprised to learn that Bergamot isn't extracted from actual hippies, but from the Bergamot, a citrus fruit grown in Calabria, Italy or perhaps France.

Finally, yesterday, Mary handed me an actual Bergamot from one from her travels. Yes, it looks like a lemon and your knowledge of citrus has probably made your mouth water as if to smell or taste the sour. But the fragrance is intense and beautiful and clean and freesia like.

I have to cut into it and taste it. It's said to be more bitter than the grapefruit, which seems impossible with its beautiful scent. I plan, however to wait. I want to leave it on the counter in my kitchen and breath in all the aroma this beauty has to offer.

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