I first had clementines in the winter of 1990, when I went to France for the whole month of December. Each French house I visited had plates and bowls of clementines piled up, and I ate many of them at any opportunity. My enthusiasm for them prompted my friend's father to chuckle and ask, "Don't you have these in the United States?" Well, kind of, but I never saw them.
Florida oranges dominated the US citrus market at that time. Clementines were mainly grown in Spain and North Africa. They were introduced to California in 1909, but a viable market for them wasn't really created in the US until 1997 when a freak cold weather front destroyed the orange crops in Florida. This drove up prices of citrus, but the plentiful clementines stayed cheap.
After people discovered the wonderful qualities of clementines, they took off from there.
Apart from eating them as a delicious snack, here are some other things you can do with clementines:
• Several recipes for clementines
• Dutch Baby with Warm Clementine Sauce
• Nigella Lawson's Clementine Cake
• Clementine Jicama Salad
• Chocolate Tart with Candied Clementine Peel
(Image: Kathryn Hill)