Of all the fruit joints in all the towns in all the world, they had to be on the shelves of mine.
To be precise, these little Casablancan beauties were reduced. £2 to 49 pence. That’s got to be a bargain. But why did no-one want them?
For my money, it was the name. What would you call a small round mandarin-like fruit that tastes like a mandarin?
Indeed, it is a trick question. Because you would not call it a mandarin. Or, indeed, an amber jewel, or sunfruit, or anything alse that has rhythm or beauty in its title.
This little orb was called a Nadorcott.
Jars, doesn’t it?
Its history is a strange one, resting as it does with a Moroccan fruit pimp who profited from a contraband liaison between a thoroughbred and an unknown father.
Chance cross-pollination, they called it. I’ll say. The aristocrat was the Murott mandarin, and no-one knows who the downtown boy was. The offspring was, apparently, rather seedy.
The man who found them, waifs amongst the Murcotts, was called Mr El Bachir Nadori, a Moroccan who acquired French Nationality in 1997. And he tried the fruit and it was jolly nice, but the seeds were a bit much really, even for a Casablancan fruit.
So he separated the offspring. He planted them in a figurative ivory tower, where no cross-pollinating bee could sully their innocence. And he waited to see what the fruit would be like.
It was virtually seed free.
He knew he was onto a winner. This was easily peelable, flavoursome, a fiery little bauble with not a seed to get trapped in unsuspecting teeth. The Holy Grail of the modern fruit world.
And unlike the Grail, because Nadori found it, he got to name it.
Nador, for Nadori; and cott, as in Murcott. Making, in total, the Nadorcott.
Probably a bit better than using the Mur from Murcott, and the dori from Nadori. No-one would want to buy Murdori fruit, I’ll give you that.
But no poetry. An onomastic travesty. Dr Johnson would turn in his grave.
However: the rest is history. Ungainly names travel slow. That was back in the heady days of 1982, and it has taken until today for the word to penetrate my consciousness. That’s 31 years; the time it takes for light to journey from Gamma Pavonis to Earth.
There is an Association des Producteurs de Nadorcott (APNM). Its address is one I would sell my soul for: 21,000, Casablanca.
I stood in the supermarket and stared, casting about for someone with whom to bray like a donkey at this outlandish word. Nadorcott.
But had life gone differently, and those fruits chosen my farm, I may well have pampered my ego by calling it a Shrewsfruit. One can hardly blame Mr Nadori for seeking a kind of immortality in a small tangerine.
So I got home and started writing and peeled one of these things, and absent-mindedly ate it.
And yet another. They are moreish, these saucy little sirens of the fruiterer’s shelves.
Ladies and Gentlemen: I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.