I promise every post is not going to be about random fruits and how to juice them. But here’s the thing – these lemons will cure you. Well, so say my parents.
At the first sign of a cold, a random sneeze, cough or sniffle – my dad will run out and return with a four pound bag of sweet lemons. Mention to my mom over the phone that Soleil (my 3 year old daughter) has a little cough and I have to take an oath that as soon as we hang up I will start cutting up some sweet lemons. Because – these sweet lemons will cure you!
Every culture (particularly old world cultures), every family has certain idiosyncrasies and rituals that get passed down from generation to generation. Over time, some of these “superstitions” change and adapt. But some prevail and linger around, a constant little whisper in your ear. And my culture is FULL of them. It’s winter – cold and flu season – a particularly popular time for these little whispers. Or, in my family’s case, not really a whisper but more of a full-on voice command:
Never sleep with wet hair
NEVER go out with wet hair
Always wear socks (especially on hardwood or tile floors)
NEVER sleep in front of a draft or in an air conditioned room
You’ll catch a cold – cover up your throat and chest (oh dreaded turtle neck that was my nemesis as a six year old)
Always wash hands as soon as you get home (this one is an all year round one and a given but I’m always surprised, so many people don’t)
And it goes on and on. So many times as a rebellious teenager I would try to argue that none of these have been proven scientifically, medically. The doctors don’t know what they’re talking about, is what they would say. Now, it should be pointed out here that my parents have the utmost respect for western/modern medicine. In fact, sneeze once and in the same breath as telling you to go pick up some sweet lemons they’ll urge you to call the doctor and make an appointment. And I suppose now as an adult and a mother I have grown to fully appreciate this embrace of both the scientific and the traditional. And for the record I still can’t sleep with wet hair and can now fully appreciate a nice soft turtleneck. What can I say – my parents were right.
Sweet lemons are exactly that – sweet. And packed with vitamin C. They are rounder than regular lemons with a softer and thinner rind. These are not Meyer lemons as many people think they are. The Persian markets usually have them at this time of year. I have been lucky to find organic ones at the citrus stand at our local Santa Monica farmer’s market. And every week at that stand, I manage to convert a handful of people and families into sweet lemon fanatics. They approach the sample slice with suspicion and skepticism. I gently push them to try one. They grab a slice, pucker up their lips in anticipation of what they assume will be sour and – epiphany! – their eyes widen in delight at the first burst of sweetness. In contrast, I can also always pick out the Persians who show up like me and fill their bag with 4 pounds of sweet lemons.
The girls love these. Whenever we have a friend over who is curious about the lemons they chant in unison: try it try it! Most of the time we just slice them up into wedges and enjoy them as is. Or we juice them simply by hand. Fresh lemonade the girls call it. Just make sure to drink the juice right away. Sweet lemon juice gets bitter if it sits out too long.
So go ahead. Try it try it! Because these lemons will cure you.
The whisper has been passed. From one generation to the next.