As most of you know, the food categories in our regular diet are Latin and Asian, specifically Cuban, Mexican, Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, and the occasional splash of Korean and Chinese. Every single one of these food categories, as broad as I have named them, require LIMES–across the board, LIMES are one of a few essential ingredients. Moreover, most of the basic sweet offerings I make, whether it is a fresh cut fruit medley, homemade popsicles, or a berry and fruit cobbler are all a little better with some fresh squeezed LIME juice.
Just look at these beautiful citrus fruits–bright, shiny, juicy. Not only are they gorgeous and delicious with most everything, but LIMES are also nutritious: they provide 48% of the daily recommended dose of vitamin C, they are high in fiber, and even contain a little bit of magnesium, calcium, and potassium (not much, but still). LIMES are even a homeopathic, tried and true, defender against many physical illnesses, one of which U.S. culture has popularized with the mythic scurvy problem in association with Mexican beer being good for you:
(I should mention here that Corona seems to be one of the very few imported beers here.)
So I say to myself, I live on an Island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I live on an island of mineral rich volcanic soil with lush vegetation and a fantastic array of produce. I say to myself again, I live on an island. As we can all see from the above photograph of the ocean with the corona bottle with a LIME in it, LIMES and islands go together. Simple as that. In fact, I even live close (well, closer, as NZ really isn’t close to anything except Antarctica) to Southeast Asia and Korea, where LIMES grow a plenty. No problem, I say to myself, No problem.
But then it happened. If you didn’t notice in the photographs of the farmers’ market post, there are no LIMES in our bounty, nor in the bins at the market, nor in the background bins at the market. In fact, and I failed to get a photograph of this last Saturday, there is ONE bin, only ONE, at the entire market labeled LIMES, but only LABELED as LIMES, for in my excitement I ran over to the bin and found this:
Now, that is just cruel. In the U.S. we call that false advertising, and some people sue over it. I will not sue over it, of course, but I see it every week, and every week my heart sinks a little more at the disappointment of being misled, because I do go over to see if there are LIMES in the bin every time, even though I know there are not LIMES in the bin.
In order to solve my LIME lack problem, I headed over to the closer, cheaper grocery store, the good ole PacNSav (think Costco warehouse style but no membership needed), to see if they had a LIME or two for the week’s meals. Nope, not a LIME in sight, but at least they have the courtesy to label the lemons correctly. Out of luck there, I head two blocks over to the more organized, a bit pricier, but not by much, Countdown (think Kroger or Robert’s). And what do I find? This:
That’s right, folks, you’re reading that correctly: LIMES for $29.90kg. (A bit of a confession here: this is an after the fact photograph. The actual limes I bought were much prettier, but they were $29.99kg. I had to go back to get this photograph for the post.) So for those of you who need some numbers crunched, I’ll make this easy for you: 1 kg (kilogram) = 2.2 lbs, and $1 U.S. is equal to roughly $1.21NZ right now. So 2.2 lbs of LIMES cost $25 here in Palmy.
Also note, please, that these LIMES are imported from the U.S.A.
So I ask my friendly neighborhood server acquaintance, Lily, what’s up with the LIME sitch around here. She laughs, then rolls her eyes a bit, and just says, “yeah, you’re just gonna have to get used to using lemons.” Now, I could make a stereotypical comment that will naturally flow from most of your minds at this moment, but NO! Instead, I want you to think of Veruca Salt when I yell out I WANT MY LIMES! NOW!
I did buy some LIMES regardless of the price, as I felt I NEEDED them. I bought three. Three little, green fruits and it cost me almost three dollars. I used to be able to get a bag full of LIMES for half that price. pftt!
So I used up two of the LIMES and held on to the third for quite a while. It had its own perch in one of the egg holders in the refrigerator for a while. I guarded that LIME with my life. No one was going to just use that LIME. It was the most beautiful LIME. It was MY PRECIOUS:
Isn’t it pretty! And then we finally had to eat it because the Lemongrass chicken and the Nuoc cham just wouldn’t be the same without it.
I have done some research on this because everyone has a lemon tree in their yard, even us. After all, how different can a lemon and LIME be? You know, lemons and LIMES, LIMES and lemons. Well, just to let you know, they are very different and very difficult to grow here in New Zealand. Our temporary landlord has three LIME trees potted in our courtyard, and only one of them is fruiting and not very well. There are only two types of LIMES that grow semi well here on the North Island (none on the South Island) and only in certain, small warmer climates. I shall try to nurse one of these:
And we’ll see how it goes, as it is my only hope. MY PRECIOUS.