You would, however, be wrong.
The image to the left is what I picture when I think of lemons. The small round green things are limes. It’s a simple life in my head, with childlike colours: lemon yellow, lime green.
This is not how things are in India. Lemons are small, round and green.
Obviously, this is wrong. It’s a world gone mad.
Lemons are a big part of Indian life – for instance, fresh lime cordial is one of the favourite drinks to accompany any meal. It’s a real refresher and you can get it in salt or sweet, or the rather pleasing half salt, half sweet.
Yet, the lemons they use for this are small and green. If they’ve been hanging around for a while, the green will have worn off and they’ll be a pallid yellow colour.
Even so, they will not be the colour known as lemon yellow.
As I’ve been in a flurry of baking for our new cake ebook recently, I’ve been haunting expensive imported food shops looking for exotic ingredients. Such exciting things as self raising flour are hard to get here.
So, imagine my joy to find a lemon – a real live, recognisably lemony lemon, in a particularly fancy shop downtown.
So what if it was outrageously expensive? I must own it. It’s been years since I’ve been this excited about citrus fruit. Any price was worth it. That lemon would be mine.
And my god, it cost a lot. Almost 200 rupees. That’s about $3 with the current exchange rate. And to put that into perspective, that’s a days wage for the labouring classes. And it’d pay my electricity bill for a few weeks too. But, hell it’s a real lemon, so hang the expense, I’m having it.
Clutching my luxury imported lemon, I tottered round to my friends place, where they kindly let me make cakes on a regular basis.
They’ve got a very fancy kitchen with big plumbed in proper electric oven. This is excitement beyond belief in my limited oven life here. My oven doubles as a microwave and is tiny, so my cakes often come out less than fabulous. This is actually quite useful for the cake ebook, as if I can make anything half way decent in it, then anyone can in a real kitchen. But it’s still nice to use a proper one when I can.
Anyway, there I go and once we’ve got through the hugging and excitement of me actually having left my house, (I don’t get out as much as I might recently, what with living on the outskirts of the Bangalore traffic jam and baking like a thing possessed), I start unpacking my ingredients.
Proudly I show my pal my lemon. My actual real lemon. I am excited.
She is excited. She tells me in a breathless tone, how she had also bellied up and bought the expensive lemon a few months back. We marvel at the price. We hold it aloft and stare at its beauty.
And then, then comes the crash – pride in citrus fruits goes before a fall after all.
Here’s what happens, the gent of the house comes in and joins the general discussion of the outrageous cost of lemons. We are all comfortably off, living in a foreign land and enjoying our lives. In fact, my pals are doing very well for themselves – yet there we stand discussing how it hurts to pay almost $3 for a lemon. A sodding lemon!
And here it is, the moment it all comes crashing down, because he says: You do know it’s sweet?
Excuse me? It’s a lemon, they’re not sweet, they’re sour. Obviously.
It’s an Australian lemon, Liz. They’re sweet.
My face crumples, this can’t be true. The shine leaves my lemon. I am crushed. Three sodding dollars for a lemon and it’s not even going to taste like an actual out and out lemon?
I put it down. I step back and looked at it with new eyes. Eventually, I put it back in my bag. Since then, I’ve been so upset about it that I’ve not even tasted it. I can’t bring myself. It is a thing of beauty, but there it sits in my fruit bowl and the damn thing can rot for all it’s going to be eaten. How can I risk that crushing sadness after such joy?
Lemon, you have let me down.
Oh sure, a week from now, I’ll sadly cut you open to try this freakish concept of a sweet lemon. But obviously that’s wrong. As wrong as green Indian lemons.
So there you go – my life as a high rolling citrus eater, crushed by new and unexpected information.
If you’d like a post with a few more actual words in it, then check these earlier posts:
And do please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.