These are the Mandarin orange peels we use to make what's called La Rou (December Pork), which is a traditional food that our province in China is known for. We started saving these orange peels about a month before December and they're left to dry so we'll have enough when we start making the meat. It's a seasonal food made only during La Yue, which is December in the Chinese calendar. It's thick slices of pork, the more fat the better, brine with salt and left in a cool, dark place for the meat to soak in all the salt for about a week or two, then smoked with mandarin orange peels and left to dry. When my family came to the U.S. we often missed these traditional foods that my grandma always makes. So we called her and got the recipe from her, we made some last year and it tasted like home, it's as if every time I took a bite I feel as if I was back in the country side in my grandma's home during winter. My grandma always made cured food and gave them to us back in China, we would often have several slices of La rou even in March, sausages and other things like red chili peppers are also part of our cultural food and it's made in a similar fashion as well. It's a traditional recipe that our little country side village has been making for years and I really look forward to this year's la rou since we plan making a lot more to give to my aunts and uncle so they can also enjoy what they had as children.
– Yi Zhu