The lemon, an oval shaped, bright yellow citrus fruit. When its juice is added to savory or sweet dishes, it provides a tart, clean, fresh flavor.
The original home of the lemon is unknown, however some people have linked it to North Western India, Northern Burma or China. From there, lemons entered Europe no later than 150 AD. They were soon introduced to Persia and Egypt around 700 AD. It took about 1,600 years for lemons to be planted in the Americas when Christopher Columbus brought the seeds to Hispaniola. By 1492, lemons were included among the fruits the Spaniards shared with the United States through St. Augustine, Florida during the Columbian Exchange.
The citron, pomelo, mandarin, kumquat, and papeda are the only naturally occurring citrus fruits, which means that even lemons are hybrid, an ancient, naturally occurring hybrid, but still a hybrid. After recent studies on the genetic origin of the lemon, researchers traced the DNA to citrons and bitter oranges which are hybrids of mandarin and pomelo.
In the 11th century, lemons were introduced to the Greeks. Now, they are a fundamental part of mediterranean cooking. If you go to a Greek restaurant almost anything you order will come with a lemon (that you are expected to use, not just for garnish) whether the main course is fish, cheese, meat, or vegetables. Greeks use lemons on everything for two main reasons: the flavor, and the medicinal uses.
The flavor is so popular because like saltiness, acidity leads to an increase in salvation, which literally means lemons are “mouth watering”.
Lemons are considered medicinal because of their high vitamin C levels. In the early 20th century, scurvy (a disease caused by a severe lack of vitamin C) was very common, and before they had the orange gummy vitamins, people drank warm lemon juice to cure their disease.
In Latin America, it was discovered that fish can be “cooked” if marinated for 2-3 hours in highly acidic lemon or lime juice. This popular dish is called ceviche, Pronounced suh-vee-chay (less commonly spelled cebiche, a popular spelling in Lima, Peru). Tryout a ceviche recipe here.
Lemons have had a long history in many countries around the world for culinary and medicinal purposes.
So, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
Story by Ava Macie