Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Are Lemons Really the Only Fruit?

I’d been looking around for suggestions for blogs, and I invited my lovely readers to come up with ideas, so today’s offering was inspired by @Sharrow_ie on Twitter, who thought I might like to write about lemons.

The first thing that came to mind, not surprisingly, I suppose, was that old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

Life seems to have given me a lot of lemons, recently, a positive surfeit, if you will, and lemonade is all very well; I would even go so far as to say that it’s delicious. My mother has a very good recipe that she often made for us on the hottest of hot summer days, when we were kids and life seemed to stretch endlessly in front of us.

There is only so much lemonade a person can make or drink, though, isn’t there? And those lemons just keep right on stacking up.

Lemon chicken’s awfully good, and simple too. Whatever quantity of sauce you make, it’s one measure of soy sauce to two of lemon juice to four of Robinson’s lemon barley water... I kid you not. Slake in some cornflour and you’re good to go. 

I know a dozen good lemon pudding recipes too, of which lemon meringue pie is the husband’s favourite, or my surprise lemon mousse. The dort makes a wonderful lemon cake and there’s a posset and a syllabub. For those cold winter nights there’s a wonderful hot toddy recipe, and you don’t have to have a cold to enjoy it, either.

Lemons are wonderful things to clean with, whether it’s shining windows, or brightening copper, and good for getting rid of fridge smells or the whiff of foot odor from trainers. 

If you’ve got kids to entertain, why not make a battery out of a lemon, or, better still, impress them with messages written in invisible ink made from lemon juice; just warm up the paper to reveal the hidden words.

Life gives us all lemons, and we can all make lemonade, but if we all made lemonade all the time, life would become pretty boring and very predictable. What pleases me, placates me or distracts me today just might not work tomorrow.

I know that’s apt to make me more difficult than some people, and more demanding, but I never claimed that I was easy. Let’s face it, most of us aren’t, are we?

Lemonade is perfectly lovely, once in a while, when I fancy it, and it’s not as if I expect other people to provide solutions to my lemon problems... at least not all the time... Although, to be fair, the husband has been known to juggle lemons for me, from time to time, to try to make me laugh, and he even succeeds, sometimes.

We can wait for others to stimulate us or we can stimulate ourselves. We can sit and stare at our lemons, we can wait for them to shrivel and grow hard skins and for all the goodness to dry up inside them, but that’s no fun, and it’s counterproductive.

Having said that, if you find your lemons less than fresh, there is a chance you might be able to revive them by simmering them gently for up to a couple of hours in clean water, allowing them to cool and then using them immediately, and if you’re so overwhelmed with them that you can’t possibly use them all up right now, lemons can be packed in salt and refrigerated for three weeks. The lemon can then be used as required and the rinds are wonderful in North African dishes. 

It’s not always easy to embrace the lemons in our lives; heaven knows, I’ve struggled this past year. In fact, when I was a kid, ‘lemon’ was an insult that we used to bandy about quite freely, a bit like berk or twit. 

It’s time to rehabilitate the lemon, if not exactly to embrace it, then at least to see its charms and to admire its versatility. It might not be my favourite fruit, and it’s certainly not the only fruit, but it’s abundant and it’s here to stay, and it most certainly has its uses.

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