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« Have your pie, and eat it too. | Main | Put Up and Give Away »

What's in a name?

In the midst of my recent marmaladery—marmadrama, if you will—I realized that I don’t know the difference between a Meyer and a regular lemon.

The pressure is on (not with lemon identification); I’m writing the final chapter of the book proposal—the living room/area chapter—yet, where do I seem to be as of late? In the kitchen, of course. Baking up a Sylvia Plath-inspired storm. Does anyone else compulsively bake to avoid obligations? In Austin, I used to drive around town, inventing errands and avoiding my house, but now car-less and up-to-here with the general NYC public (outside my house), I’ve taken to the kitchen. (I suppose there are worse vices.)

As my kitchen competency increases, so shall my exotic fruit knowledge.
Yeah, Meyers are pretty much lemon porn.

I read an excellent piece on detailing the story behind and recipes for using Meyer lemons. Here’s a quick re-cap, to expand your own fruit I.Q.

1. Let’s first address the obvious: these little guys are yolk-colored and entirely soft and ridiculously fragrant. 

2. Originally came from China in the early 1900’s, but their namesake Frank N. Meyer died before his U.S. Dept. of Ag-sponsored ‘agricultural expedition’ returned stateside.

3. A cross between a mandarin orange and a lemon. (Funny how the first thing that comes to mind when I think of mandarin oranges is Jell-o.)

4. Edible rinds (ahem, great for canning and conserves), which makes shipping a pain in the ass (since they’re so sensitive).

5. Grown in the U.S.’s more tropical regions, California, Texas (woot!) and Florida. Growing season lasts from November to March.

Mystery solved; however, I was not thinking about lemons as I ventured home today from my writing workshop for elementary-aged kids. My emotional gas-light switched on somewhere between our basement-level classroom and my stoop.

My kitchen table absorbed all the cheerfulness leaking out of me. I picked up the immodest Meyer, took a whiff and instantly landed nose-deep in the spring perfume (citrus blossoms) lingering amidst Tucson’s expansive mountain-scape. Bam! One little lemon (I only bought one today, after all, I have a chapter to finish) made me forget about how some rat-bastard child dropped the half-eaten (homemade) mini corn muffin I’d provided to the class on the floor of the elevator. Really?! Who does that? (Does that kid throw unwanted food on the floor of his/her house?) Or how the driver of a car-inching-along-due-to-traffic nearly ran me over and looked surprised as I pointed out the crosswalk in which he was so courteously parked.

Who knew this pretty little lemon would energize more than a chicken dish, marmalade or muffin recipe? It would save my sanity, my New York-tried nerves.

A lemon, yet to be chopped and baked into gluten free muffins, quickly shielded me from losing sight of what’s important. Focusing on the thoughtlessness or inconsideration of others will make you sour. It’s best to close your eyes and remember sweeter times, following your nose first.

Reader Comments (3)

That's a nice little lemon, and a nice bit o' writing. Sweet.

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

I LOVE meyer lemons! My parents (who live in south Louisiana) have a meyer lemon tree in their back yard. Those suckers grow as big as oranges and make some incredible lemon martinis.

Thanks for highlighting these and sharing the NPR story!

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKate Gregory

Thanks Julia!

Oh, Kate. A lemon martini sounds exquisite! I was just reading Eugenia Bone's blog post about making granita with Meyer lemons. Here's the link:

January 28, 2010 | Registered CommenterKate

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