Monday, October 29, 2012


Satsuma. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
Local school officials came up with the best idea they've had in years: a full week off in October. Not just a long weekend for Columbus Day, but an honest-to-gosh week off, bookended with solid weekends. For my family, this meant loading up the minivan and heading to the beach, the sunny Gulf Coast of Alabama, home of squeaky sand, unlimited fried seafood shacks and bountiful produce.

Where I live in north Georgia, the autumn months mean apple season. In L.A. (Lower Alabama), the cooler months mean citrus, and we just happened to be there in the middle of satsuma season. What is a satsuma? Well, it's a kind of mandarin orange, seedless and very sweet. If you're familiar with the now-ubiquitous clementine, then you're on the right track. the satsuma is a little bit softer and quite a bit sweeter than a clemmie.If you're coming from the tangerine frame of mind, satsumas are not nearly as tart, and with a peel that zips away from the fruit. (in other words, the satsuma is a superior fruit)

The friendly and helpful clerk at the Burris Farm Market in Loxley, Alabama, assured me that they were excellent this year, even the green ones, and that satsumas were her favorite citrus. I bought two pounds and I should have bought 20 - they were half-gone when we reached home and completely gone the next day.

Satsumas. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

When I got home with the fruit, while I was still entertaining the idea of cooking the satsumas, I looked through John Besh's beautiful cookbook, "My New Orleans," and saw that he uses satsumas in the Christmas standby, ambrosia. There's another lovely recipe that sounds like it would be worth saving satsumas for ~ Citrus Pots de Creme with Lavener Madeleines.

Satsumas. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books.
What about you? If you're headed to the Gulf Coast, bring me back some satsumas!

Text and images copyright 2012. Lucy Mercer.


Richard Moore said...

We just returned from the Outer Banks (Duck, NC) leaving a day early on Saturday due to Hurricane Sandy. Love the ocean/beach in October.

My favorite NO cookbook is THE NEW ORLEANS COOKBOOK (Knopf 1975) by Richard and Rima Collin, which was something of a trendsetter.

Also recommend Richard Collin memoir of the last years of travel and writing with his wife Rima and after her death his continuing on the four final trips they had planned together.

Both Richard and Rima were professors at the University of New Orleans. TRAVELS WITH RIMA was published by LSU in 2002. I like his description of their marriage:

"(Before marriage) Rima and I were both articulate, willful, bright, wounded birds, sometimes absolutely sure what we wanted, at other times open to the possibility of flexibility...Good marriages always create a third willful 'person'. Rima and I wrote together (and separately), traveled, talked and liked the same things--though often they were different things than before we fell in love." What a pleasure to read about a wonderful marriage.

Remi studied the art of cooking in France. Richard wrote a restaurant guide THE NEW ORLEANS UNDERGROUND GOURMET and then joined together in 1975 to create a cookbook that retains their youthful enthusiasm and joy of discovery.

Lucy Mercer said...

Richard, what interesting books - I will definitely look for them. Thanks for reading!