I Learned Something About Earl Grey Tea

I was drinking the stuff long before Jean-Luc Picard ever said "Tea, Earl Grey, Hot."* The name is so posh-sounding and the flavor is so very...well, so very what, exactly? I'd always assumed that the unique flavor had something to do with the "oil of bergamot." It had never occurred to me wonder "Just what is a 'bergamot'?" The taste was so odd and unique, it didn't taste like anything else so I never had a mental image of what a bergamot would look like.

That all changed last week. Our favorite local grocer is having a citrus event, and at the very top of the pyramid of unusual fruits was a giant, lemon-looking thing labelled "bergamot." Eureka! You might not have guessed it from the flavor of the tea, but the bergamot is an orange that looks like a lemon and tastes like...what? We had to buy one.

In the interest of science (and by 'science' I mean 'satisfying our curiosity') we cut it into slices and ate them They tasted like lemons with the intense flavor of, you guessed it, Earl Grey tea. I really can't overstate the intensity. The fruit and especially the peel tasted almost like perfume. There's something surreal about eating something that looks like one thing and tastes like another entirely. I experienced a little of that the first time I prepared jicama at home, but that was nothing compared to the bergamot. It tastes almost "old-timey," if that makes sense.

I'm tickled that we live in a place where we can just go down the street and get all the bergamots we want. I'll wager there are some good recipes which take advantage of the bergamot, but off the top of my head, I can't think of how I'd use it in cooking. It was just too much on it's own. 



* He was born in 2305, after all, so this isn't really saying much.