Preserving a myth…


There was a poster for a lemon cordial that I still clearly remember from my childhood. It was an illustration of a lemon with a humanoid face that was puckered with the sharpness that we  associate with lemon juice: “Idris when I’s dri” was the memorable strap line. The hollow cheeked, yellow face, rebelling against the tartness of lemon, was an unusual device for promoting the sweet taste of lemon cordial, or squash as we called it then, but it must have been successful as I not only remember the poster but also the shape of the bottle. Lemon squash, as my drink,  gave way to lemonade which in turn was mixed with beer before taking on the minimalist look of a slice of lemon in a gin and tonic. From that point on lemon was closely allied to “falling down” water. This period, let us call it my yellow period, included my short love affair with the vodka Martini. It was short because so am I and the stools in the Zanzibar were very tall. My regular falls from grace meant that I was suffering the same sort of damage as a serious sportsman whilst simply  enjoying the odd Martini or ten. The final phase of my lemonism took place in Positano where I self harmed with Limoncello.  I had to call it a day, but I couldn’t as it had too many syllables  for my critically citrically impaired mind and then it all went dark.

Today, lemons and I have a more stable relationship: I only eat them. The lemonism remains as I still can’t get enough of them. Tarte au citron, lemon cakes, lemon sorbets, lemon granitas, lemon bars: lemon has the ability to position itself as a real competitor to chocolate.  But lemons rise up into a higher realm when used as a seasoning or flavouring influence, introducing a sweet sharpness that is singularly seductive. Preserved lemons set me on this course today. lemons_preserved_0007On opening the preserving jar I’m mesmerised by the the scent. How can the simple addition of salt, water and paprika transform the simple fruit into a palate hallucinogen, the ne plus ultra of conserves? I find I’m dipping my spoon into the liquid and sipping it like a delicious cocktail. Oh God, lemonism is upon me….I’m sure a Martini might benefit from a drop of such an intense…stop it, stop it now….

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2013, 70's, Bad Habits, Baking, Cocktails, Cooking, desserts, Digital photography, Drinks, Emotion, Excellence, Excess, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, Fruit, Lemon bar cakes, Lemon tart, lemons, sea salt, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to Preserving a myth…

  1. Sally says:

    Lemon eclipses chocolate for me – so you might say I’m a lemonist too. Drinking the lemon water from the jar – done it. Putting it in a cocktail…well there’s a thought.

  2. Lemonism , great word by the way, could be a real addiction, it can marry with chocolate very well, though might be challenged marriage !! If lemon tarts with chocolate on the bottom are in the wedding party than this might be the BLISS for a successful marriage. Cheers to your lemonized poetry!

  3. Delicious. This post makes me want to preserve some lemons then candy the rest.

  4. Mad Dog says:

    Ha ha – far too salty for a Martini, but I did wonder myself before I bit one 😉

  5. Tandy says:

    I will have to make some more preserved lemons soon, if only to try the liquid in a cocktail 🙂

  6. Oh me, oh my… a Tanqueray martini with a twist is a go-to drink of mine. I can’t quite indulge as much as I used to, but a clean, crisp citrus flavor highlights the juniper so well. The idea of “lemonism” is a fun one. I don’t necessarily consider myself a lemonist, but can understand the attraction.

  7. peasepudding says:

    My husband always says to me “you and your lemon vest”. I have a habit of adding it to many savoury dishes, I cant help myself, it transforms a dish in with the slightest grate. He has no complaints with his lemon rind in martini which he prefers over olives.

  8. Ugh, preserved lemons. No, thank you.

  9. What about candied lemon rinds dipped in chocolate? (in response to your words: “lemon has the ability to position itself as a real competitor to chocolate”) Best of both worlds!?

  10. Fresh lemons are some of the nicest things this world has to offer us, Roger…

  11. ChgoJohn says:

    Ah! Thanks, Roger. I made and stashed a couple jars of preserved lemon in the back of my refrigerator’s lowest shelf, forgetting about them soon thereafter. Thanks for the reminder. It’s time I found use for them. It wouldn’t hurt to clean out the fridge, too. 😉

  12. Karen says:

    I preserve lemons too and have some in my pantry now. It seems I’m missing a terrific sounding ingredient…paprika. Who knew.

  13. Michelle says:

    Gorgeous, Roger. It’s been a number of years since we’ve preserved lemons. I think it’s time to remedy that.

  14. I’m growing a lemon tree in a container outside and can’t wait to taste the fruit. Never preserved anything, but may have to give this a try.

  15. Thanks – I look forward to it. Meanwhile I’m off to get some gin, in preparation.

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