You can squeeze them, zest them, slice them, juice them, or even pickle them, but few would dare to take a bite out of a lemon. Vital for making drinks and adding flavor to food, this sour fruit has many other purposes, from aromatherapy, first aid, and medicine to disinfectant and stain remover. Drawing on her background as a fruit picker, writer, and chef, Toby Sonneman explores the uses of lemons while telling the fascinating story of their remarkable adventures in Lemon: A Global History.
Sonneman begins in India where the lemon was born, describing its fragrant and mysterious ancestor, the citron. She follows it as it travelled with Arabs along ancient trade routes, came of age in Sicily and Italy, and sailed to the New World with Columbus. She reveals that the lemon was an exotic luxury in seventeenth-century Europe, until it saved the lives of thousands of sailors in the British Royal Navy after being recognized as a cure for scurvy. The last century saw the lemon’s rise to commercial and culinary success as well as the discovery of the Meyer lemon--a cross between a lemon and an orange or mandarin--in China by an eccentric plant explorer. Sonneman also journeys to lemon orchards in Sicily, the Amalfi Coast, and Southern California. With delicious recipes for sweet and savory dishes and beverages, there is nothing sour about this lively, refreshing book.