December 04, 2008

Orange Peels.

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.


Tom said...

Every so often I smell something that makes me think "hello, that reminds me of..." and by the time I've had that thought I can't think of what it reminds me of. It's a strange thing because often the memory is vivid yet 5 seconds later it's gone.

Freshly cut grass and things like that don't count, it's the fleeting smell of something you know you've experienced before but just can't put your finger on it, and then it's gone. Weird.

Diane said...

That smell-memory connection has always fascinated me. What I hate, though, is when you smell something that reminds you of SOMETHING but you can't put your finger on what it is exactly.

The orange peel recycling thing is very interesting. You know I'm going to spend the whole day researching it, right? And I probably won't get any work done. And it'll be all your fault. Damn you, Zuz... Damn you! ;)

Michelle H. said...

Clementines... now that takes me back. I remember my mother was on a mailing list to receive crates of oranges delivered to the house.

The only thing I can think of for the school collecting orange peels is to give to farmers to make into mulch for the fields. Or maybe they cut up the pieces to put into potpurri sacks. It's strange why they never gave an explanation to anyone, though.

Melanie Gillispie said...

Well, I can't stand not knowing something, so I was going to search until I found something! On this website
it says that orange peel can be used to make plastics, made into pellets and fed to cattle, used as kindling, placed in a bag to reduce musty odors, and for making cleaning oil. I betcha it was something to do with the plastics, though.

Holly said...

It is interesting to me the random bits and pieces that we remember from our childhoods. I think that smell is one of the strongest memory links. What a fun and unusual peels all over the house.

I keep meaning to tell you that on Tuesday I got my hands on an entire box of Clementines, and introduced my whole family to them. They are already nearly gone. :)

Zuzana said...

Tom, yes, I know the feeling. It is related to your post yesterday about music. Scent is similar to sound and can evoke familiar feelings, although we cannot always place them. And as you say, they are gone before we even have a chance to register the memory.

Diane, I agree, your comment reflects Tom’s sentiments and mine. Please let me know if you find anything at all on the subject of orange peels. And I apologize if this will interfere with your work.;)))) But I know you will forgive me.;)))

mlh, how wonderful to hear that you recognize clementines. Here in Demark there is a similar possibility of ordering both fruits and vegetables to be delivered to your home.
I like your suggestions on a possible explanation for the peel use; I will have to get back to you on that one if I ever find the answer.

Mel, that is wonderful trait, to be so persistent in order to search for answer to the unknown. Thank you so much for the url!!! Yes, what you suggest makes perfect sense, I bet it is the plastics or as mlh suggests, used in farming.

Holly, yes the peels were everywhere.:)
I am so glad to hear you have managed to locate a significant amount of clementines and that they were a success in your home. Wonderful to hear that.;))

Hilary said...

Well I'm glad you have so many others willing to look into that for you.. it saves me the time that I would inevitably spent doing the same. ;)

The sense of smell is such an incredible memory-jogger. Both good and bad. Here's wishing all of yours to be good ones.

Zuzana said...

Hilary, thank you for that kind wish!
It seems so far that mlh and Mel has suggested a few, quiet reasonable possibilities to what the peels are used for.
Interestingly, I followed the site Mel suggested and there I learned that dry orange peels are perfect as fire starters and kindling. So, now I am off to save all the peels again, as I did when I was a child. Imagine that!:)))