She had said that we were allowed to eat a snack from the fruit bin whenever we liked. We had just landed in Bolivia and were invited to stay with another missionary family until we found a house. The quarters were cramped, but we were thankful for a roof over our head and some help acclimating. The wife had gone to do some grocery shopping and I stayed with the kids. After a while a snack sounded like a good idea so I looked to see what they had in the bin. Oranges, perfect! I opened the first one and it smelled a bit rotten, so I tossed it in the trash. The second one smelled equally potent, so it met its doom as well. As the sixth piece of fruit was being thrown away the woman of the house entered and said, “What are you doing!” She was shocked, so what should have been a question was clearly expressed as reproach. I jumped, startled, as the last fruit went to the can. I explained that the oranges smelled bad. She explained, “That’s because they are not oranges. They are ‘mandarinas’.” Profuse apologies from a newbie missionary to an upset hostess followed.
We are like that with God sometimes. If he asks us to do something that smells different we throw it out. Better to embrace whatever it is that he wants us to do and trust that things are going to be ok if we do.
The Funny Fruit – Mandarina
So in Spanish it has an extra ‘a’ tacked on to the end. The pronunciation is melodic [mahn – thah – DEE – nah] (the ‘th’ is a quick light touch to the back of your top front teeth with your tongue, and the ‘D’ is aquick light touch to the front of the roof of your mouth with your tongue).
Maybe this is not a rare fruit for you; but where I grew up (Omaha, Nebraska) the only mandarins we knew came in cans and were used to dump in the bottom of Jell-O.
Saturday at the market the stand I buy from had four different kinds of ‘mandarinas’ available. The main difference was the size and juiciness. I chose the ‘hierba buena’ (good herb / weed / grass), the smallest and easiest for the kids to munch on. All mandarins are easy enough for a toddler to peal; which is what is taking place as I type. They are a part of the orange family so are packed with vitamin c. Their fruit is sweet and oh so yummy; though they do have a strong smell when you peal them.