I bit into a kumquat from my Grandmother’s tree. I was twelve years old. I remember the sundress I wore – a red, white and blue flower print with a tube top and spaghetti straps that tied at the shoulders.

It was a dramatic culinary moment the details of which became seared in my mind. I bit into the tiny teardrop shaped orange. Both bitter and pungent, it exploded in my mouth for less than a second before it hit the ground. I would not try a kumquat again for another thirty years.

I know I prattle on about kale more than any other thing I put in my mouth. But, it was this, my favorite veggie, that provided the vehicle to heal my relationship with kumquats.

A week or so ago, I ate out at one of my favorite eateries, Lemonade on Beverly Blvd. in West Hollywood. Since I try kale salad pretty much everywhere it is offered, I asked for the kumquat kale salad as one of my portions in this unique gourmet deli style eatery.

This kale salad was sweet, spicy, a little bit bitter, pungent and man it was delicious! This time, as I bit into the kumquat, I had a mini revelation about that moment in my Grandmother’s yard; kumquats need to be ripe, I mean really ripe in order to eat them. When ripe, they are sweet, pungent and only slightly bitter.

The balance of flavor and nutrition in kumquats is brilliant. High in fiber, essential oils, carotonoids, antioxidants, vitamins B,C and E, kumquats – peel and all – are no slouch in the nutricious food world.

Nagami Kumquats are found most often in the U.S. Their latin name is Margarita Fortunella. I love that! My given name is Margaret. And fortunately, this Margaret, gave kumquats another chance.