Lemons Are Essential
You know how I told you that beans are a daily or almost daily addition to Mexican and Mexican American meals? Well, so are limones. When they’re not on the table with the chile, we go looking for them.
I started this post with the idea that I would share my cabbage salad recipe. It’s a simple, inexpensive and refreshing salad that goes well with several of my meat dishes. Then, it hit me, lemons are an integral part of our meals, they’re definitely an essential garnish on the dinner table. Just writing about lemons stirs up my glands as I imagine the various botanas we eat con limon y chile. Jicama sticks drenched in lemon juice, sprinkled with chile powder and salt is one of my favorite snacks.
I use lemon juice in my favorite salsa and when I serve caldo de pollo o de rez, lemon wedges are always an available garnish to squeeze into your soups.
What is it about lemons that excites my taste buds? It’s the double punch of zing and zest that splash when lemon juice hits my taste buds. When I was young, my sister and I would snack on limones! We would simply cut a lemon in half, squeeze out the lemon juice into a cup and add some California chile powder and salt to the juice and stir it into a paste. Then we would refill the lemon with the chile paste and eat it. Hijole! I always took it to the next level and bit into the lemon, peel and all. OOO! That mouthful of lemon and chile paste, Smacking my tongue at the memory. It is part of the Mexican cultural traditions I was raised with.
Lesson on Lemons
Latina blood can be quite zesty, maybe lemon juice is part of my genetic makeup? This is my unofficial clinical observation amongst Latinos: give a toddler a taste of lemon, she will either wrinkle her face but smack her lips and wait for another taste. After the shock of zing she'll decide she likes the taste.
Historians believe that perhaps lemons originated in Asia, but this is not a definite fact. Most definitely lemons have made their way across the continents and countries of the world. Originally, lemon plants were used mostly for decoration.
Eventually, limones were introduced to the Americas through the Europeans. Although they had not been used for foods yet, their medicinal purposes were discovered. Scurvy, for example, commonly attacked sailors during their long voyages. Lack of Vitamin C is a main cause of Scurvy, and lemons are incredibly resourceful when it comes to Vitamin C. I imagine that the sailors of those old time ships learned to appreciate their dose of lemon juice.
Lemons do have plenty of other uses, they've come a long way, from just ornamental use. Today they are demanded around the world! I was not surprised to learn that Mexico is one of the top producers of limones, it’s kind of personal you know.
As for me, their culinary benefits are what draws me to the fruit. Lemons in your drink, or refreshing lemonade. Lemon bars, lemon tarts, or sweet tangy lemon drops. Lemons can garnish and enhance your meal deliciously.
Lemons are coveted in my kitchen, so much so that my husband has planted my very own lemon tree. I love to eat lemons just like that, of course, in moderation. Mostly I use them often when I prepare food.
Easy Salad Recipe
Now that I’ve shared these little lemon drops of knowledge, I can share my easy Green Cabbage Salad recipe. It is especially refreshing during the summer months.
Green Cabbage Salad Recipe:
2 cups- Shredded green cabbage
1 large thinly sliced cucumber,
1/8 of a red onion thinly sliced (optional)
1 large lemon
Combine the cabbage, cucumber and onions in a large bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice on the salad, add salt and toss it. Pruebalo. Toss the salad again, salt brings out the flavor so add otro punito de sal, if you need it.
Happy Memorial Day
As you turn the page from spring to summer, take a moment to remember our fallen soldiers that have died serving our country. Celebrate your freedom this Memorial Day with a nice Mexican meal: Texas style tamales, beans, rice, and green cabbage salad. For dessert enjoy a lemon square topped with vanilla ice cream.