Clementine: pure chance or divine intervention?
In 1892, visiting the fruit nursery and garden of the agricultural orphanage of the Congrégation du Saint-Esprit (Congregation of the Holy Spirit) in Misserghin, near Oran in Algeria, the French botanist Louis-Charles Trabut noticed a new sort of hybrid plant growing among the mandarin trees. Its fruit offered up a host of qualities: a thin and easy to peal skin, a flowery fragrance, a light and refreshing juice and, of course, no seeds whatsoever. Intrigued and impressed by this new variety of citrus, Trabut christened the fruit clementine, in honor of Brother Clément, in charge of the garden of the orphanage. The clementine (scientific name Citrus clementina) was found to be, after many years of research, a hybrid of the mandarin (Citrus reticulata) and sweet orange (Citrus sinensis). Clementines are mainly grown in the Mediterranean basin: Algeria, Morocco (which invented another hybrid, the tangerine, named after the coastal city of Tangiers), Tunisia, Lebanon, Spain, Italy and France. In the latter, Corsica produces 98% of national production and benefits from the status of PGI (Protected Geographic Indication). Highly appreciated in pastry-making, the clementine provides its subtle taste, its lively color and its ability to mix well with many other fruits, as well as chocolate, aromatic plants and spices, such as ginger and vanilla. It is also a very healthy fruit, with a high concentration of vitamins A, B and C, good fiber content and numerous antioxidants and flavonoids, which make it one of the most popular and most consumed winter fruits.