Let it be known that, every once in a while, my bottomless stomach and complete lack of restraint when it comes to eating can actually be a good thing. It doesn’t happen often…but when it does, I do not hold back in the slightest.
Any time someone asks me what shopping for food is like in Japan, I inevitably end up bemoaning how expensive fruit it. Thankfully for me, however, there is one exception that I wholeheartedly love and take advantage of: the みかん (“mikan”). Clementines were always one of my favorite fruits in America, and my family would devour them by the box. In fact, I can remember instances in which my dad would peel clementines for my sisters and me, and we’d eat the fruit more quickly than he could peel them.
When I first learned that みかん were abundant and popular in Japan during winter, I didn’t really believe it. It wasn’t until I bought a sack of them for myself when I first came on a university trip in January of 2011 that I accepted the truth. Last winter, I started noticing that clementines weren’t just sold in bags of half or full dozens; they were also available in boxes of five and ten kilos.
And I grabbed that bull by the horns and didn’t let go until the boxes sadly were no longer offered in my local grocery store. All told, I ate roughly 35 kilograms, or 77 pounds, of clementines last winter. That’s basically a well-fed child. I ate an eight-year-old’s worth of みかん. And yes, I am very proud of this fact. (My students, on the other hand, find my above-average consumption hilarious at best and more than a bit insane at worst.)
I’m also convinced that I had superhuman amounts of vitamin C flowing through my veins, and that it was the reason that I didn’t get a cold until mid-March, when clementines largely disappeared from the store. Coincidence? I think not.
This year, though, I’m dead set on upping the ante to a full fifty kilos, or about 110 pounds, of みかん consumed during winter. Yes, this is an actual goal, and I will be sorely disappointed in myself if I don’t succeed. I’ve been going at it for about a week and a half, and I’ve already worked my way through about fifteen pounds. At about ten pounds a week, it’ll be a piece of cake. My immune system is already flexing its muscles and motioning for any brave flu strains to take their best shot.
Plus, there’s another plus to eating so many: my apartment now has a steady stream of mikan candles. Cut the fruit in half, peel off the skin, cut a hole in the top, pour a bit of olive oil on the bottom pith for a makeshift wick, light the thing, and voilá! Instant candle that makes your apartment smell like a little slice of citrus heaven.
See? Having a mikan addiction can have a few upsides!