La China Dulce

One of my favorite food treats that we discovered in Old San Juan was what they called "La China Dulce."

Before we saw the stand selling the treats, we saw lots of people--old and young alike--with their faces buried deep in beautiful citrus fruits with white rinds, sucking up the sweet juice on the hot [winter] day.

When we approached the stand, we realized that the reason the fruit had white rinds was because  it the outer orange rind was being removed, in a spiral fashion, to reveal the white pith below.

There was a man sitting before baskets and baskets of these fruits, passing each one through a hand-cranked machine that peeled the oranges (like one would peel an apple or potato).

Then, these partially peeled fruits were sold to passers-by for 50 cents a piece--either "open" with the top cut off, or closed, in a bag to go.  You then just used your teeth to scrape out the sweet flesh and juice of the fruit as you strolled the beautiful pathways and plazas of Old San Juan, soaking up the majesty.


  1. I've read elsewhere that china dulce translate as sweet oranges, and I think the name can cover a lot of orange varieties, like Valencia. I'm wondering if these might be a different variety than you've encountered before, though? Can you describe the taste?

    You are making me thirst for citrus you just can't find in WI! For example, the limón we had in Panama were not just "limes," but sort of sweeter and more along toward the lemon or key lime end of the spectrum--hard to describe! And the lemons at Eric's grandparents' house in Georgia are super thin-skinned, juicy, and sweet, even more than storebought Meyer lemons. We brought some of those home as preserved lemons, but I wish we had access to those fresh for more than one week out of the year!

  2. Yes! I tried to do some googling around to figure out what variety they were, but wasn't able to find anything very definitive. They were large (bigger than a grapefruit) and were quite juicy but not very sweet. (though really refreshing when chilled). Maybe someday one of us will live somewhere that we can grow our own citrus, eh?!

  3. Wow, bigger than a grapefruit! Would love to try them. Someday maybe!


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