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Mandarin Peeling, 101

What you’re about to read is something I've only confided to a group of close coworkers a few years ago, and not again since. It was met with a collective “Are you serious?!” and a quick visit to YouTube, but still the situation was never corrected.

I was never taught how to properly eat an orange. There. I said it. My parents never sat me down and showed me how to open this delicious sunshine treat, or maybe I just missed that day in kindergarten. I'm not quite sure. All I know is I’m the type of person who would actually benefit from those packages of pre-peeled oranges that can be found in the refrigerator as you walk into Whole Foods. That marketing “genius’s” demographic that was mocked on Twitter? Hi. Nice to meet you.

So I don’t know how to eat an orange. But I’m starting small—with mandarins. I still don’t know if I’m doing it right, but judging by the laugh that eked out of my wife when she caught me opening one once, I’m going to go with a big no. No Bridget, you can’t even open this lacrosse ball-sized fruit.

Let me tell you how it goes down:

I start by poking a hole with my thumb into the part where the stem once was. Then I slowly pull the tough outer layer back, and 15 misshapen pieces later, I have a semi-naked mandarin and sweet smelling nectar caked underneath my fingernails. This is where I’m assuming most people just start taking bites. Not me, though. Not this person who never learned how to eat any fruit of an orange hue.

I continue to take the mandarin apart, freeing each crescent from the overwhelming sphere. Not able to see enough of the juicy flesh, I have to keep going. I pull away the bigger strings and then scrape away as much of the white casing as I can. My wife tells me that this skeleton is where all of the nutrients and antioxidants are, but let’s be honest, my immune system has never been that strong and it’s a little too late to start that reversal now, anyway.

Once all the pieces are free and as clean as possible, once I can see a few drops of the tangy juice begin to seep out, only then do I begin to indulge. One piece of mandarin a time, I crush the fruit with my molars and savor the sour nectar. Crescent by crescent, the feast continues.

I’ve seen my wife peel a mandarin in two swift pulls and devour it within seconds. It takes me at least five times as long to eat this palm sized fruit. So long in fact, that my mind was able to describe the process in 450 words. But who’s to say who's right? The quick and efficient, or the slow and determined?