Spring has suddenly begun making itself felt strongly in Melbourne. Our famous elms are sporting the pale green seed pods that are so pretty on the trees and such a nuisance once they start to fly about, sticking to car duco and clogging up gutters. Wisteria is bursting into bloom and ephemeral cherry, apple and prunus blossoms scent the air, so poignantly beautiful for their all-too-brief season.
Early spring in Morocco has baskets full of Bitter Orange blossoms in the markets and copper stills for hire prompting industrious women, particularly in Fes, to prepare their annual supply of orange blossom water. As the Bitter or Seville Orange (Citrus aurantium subsp. amara) is found in most Moroccan gardens and is a common street tree, planted for its hardiness, evergreen beauty and heady perfume, there is a ready supply of blossoms to pick during the season.
Moroccan women will often add a few orange blossoms to the pot when making mint tea. Out of season, a few drops of orange blossom water can be substituted.
For those who eschew caffeine late in the afternoon and evening, a scant teaspoon of orange blossom water in a glass of hot water makes for a delicious and digestive after-dinner drink and is known in Lebanon as “qahwa baida” or “white coffee” – plain or sweetened to taste with a little sugar, it will ensure a restorative night’s sleep as well!