December 04, 2008
Oranges, tangerines and clementines are readily available in the winter and I always have some at home. They are loaded with vitamins and as I enjoy the taste, I can eat several at a time and bring them often to work as an afternoon snack. The other day, while peeling an orange I came to think about a bizarre, but interesting custom in my very past and decided to share it. Perhaps there is someone out there who can shed a light on what was actually going on.
As a child, I grew up in the communist part of Europe. Although there is a lot of negative things one can say about that regime and I would not wish it’s return ever again, I also have some fond memories from that time. Of course I was a child and grew up in a relatively carefree way.
Well, I recall that in school we were brought up in the spirit of recycling. Yes, I am fully aware of the irony in this, as I know for a fact that there were huge areas in the former Eastern block which did not give a damn about recycling or saving the environment. But, in school we had competitions about who could bring in more discarded paper or dried orange peels. Yes, we were collecting dried orange peels. Perhaps this shows my ignorance, but I have no idea why we did this and to what purpose. I only recall how we saved all the peels we could get our hands on as children, and believe me, oranges at that time were hard to come by. I remember having the peels spread all over the floor in mine and my sisters room, even on top of the heated radiators at home, just so that they would dry. Then we would pack them in paper or plastic bags and off we went to the recycling centers, set up in school, where the bags and containers were weighted.
I completely eliminated this memory from my mind until a few days ago. I think it is interesting how memory works and I wonder what triggered it, as I have been eating oranges for over 30 years since this memory took place. I tried to search the net in order to find any information about what the orange peel could possibly be used for, but no luck. Each search yielded in either baking recipes or tea preparation. A few sites in Slovak came up as apparently to this day, schools still arrange the "orange peel" recycling, but nowhere did I find any explanation why.
Well, perhaps I might never get to know - all I can do is to hope that I did perhaps contribute in a small way to something good.