I'm grateful that I live in this century, because in earlier times, I might never have tasted an orange. For most of its history, the fruit has been all but unknown to the average citizen. Native to southern China and first cultivated there about four thousand years ago, oranges made their way to Japan, India, Africa, into the Mediterranean, and across the Atlantic (Columbus introduced them to the New World), but they remained rare, relished mainly by emperors, bishops, and noblemen. In the late 1400s Charles VIII of France built the first orangerie—a gallery for sheltering oranges—and monarchs all over Europe followed suit. (The most magnificent belonged to Louis XIV at Versailles. It was a C-shaped building stretching 1,200 feet, filled with a thousand trees in silver boxes.) Not until the last century could the middle class indulge in oranges, and only in the early 20th century did they become common in America—thanks in large part to distribution by railroad. Today they are the most popular citrus fruit in the world, and Americans alone eat nearly 20 million pounds of them every year.