The wind greets you with a cold, brusque slap, an angry ex-girlfriend seeking revenge. Your eyes prick and well up, but no matter how much you curl into yourself like a frightened hermit crab and keep your eyes down, icy fingers pry and sneak under your jacket and shirt, mercilessly prodding your skin.
All is forgotten and somewhat forgiven when you return home and are greeted by its familiar exhale. In the kitchen, a rustic wooden bowl piled high with winter citrus glows in supersaturated colors that mimic the sun slinking into the horizon of a more inviting climate. Your fingers, beginning to thaw, press into the giving flesh of a round-bellied tangerine, a fine mist of juice and oils release. Each segment is wrapped like a gift in coarse silk.
My favorite part about this cake was making the tangerine marmalade. Rather than rushing through the prep work, I turned off all extraneous sound and stood at the counter, calm, quiet, alone—a rare occurrence. I listened to the skin shyly parting from the fruit's flesh, inhaled. Picking the seeds out, one by one like pearls from oysters, then gliding the knife rhythmically back and forth to make slender strips of zest. Cooking the fruit down, stirring, waiting, basking in the warmth of the blue stovetop flame. Finally, the warm marmalade is thick enough to spread.
I ignore my own recipe instructions and eat the olive oil cake warm, with my hands, its fine crumbs clinging like so many tiny burrs to a sticky, glowing spoonful of marmalade.
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About the author: María del Mar Sacasa is a recipe developer, food stylist, and author of the food blog High Heels & Frijoles. Behind her girly façade lurks a truck driver's appetite. Read about her cravings and suffer through her occasional rants on Twitter @HHandFrijoles.