California was initially built on two things: the Gold Rush and citrus. And this month the granddaddy of all citrus - the pomelo - rolls in and takes over whatever space it can. It's pretty giant - its genus/species names are citrus grandis and citrus maximus after all. And currently, the U.S. leads the world in pomelo harvests, outpacing its native China by thousands of tons. The bulk of that? Grown here in California and usually available just in time for Chinese New Year.
Unlike the usual grapefruit, the rind on the pomelo is thick and pillowy, but it easily peels away from the fruit. It sections like any other citrus, though the membranes surrounding the succulent, caviar-like pulp are especially bitter. Thankfully, the thick and almost leathery skins also peel easily away. The outer rind works very well in marmalades and jams and makes delectable candy. There are a few pomelo-like varieties and crosses out there as well, the very sweet Oroblanco and the Yellow Mello among them. The Chandler is the most common pomelo, but we also love the sugary blushed fruit of the pink pomelo, sectioned and peeled into some butter lettuce and sprinkled with a light fruity vinegar.
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The fractaled Romanesco broccoli, with its conical, spiral-festooned florets, is in fine form this month. It's a close cousin of the cauliflower, but is more tender and can be enjoyed raw. It can also handle all manner of cooking but its nutty flavor achieves praise-worthy status when it's roasted with a little salt and olive oil on high heat. Plus it's just plain interesting - its patterns of edible math have been the focus of study of physics students for decades.