Beauty is only skin deep…but it’s the skin that’s the problem


No matter how carefully I inspect them in the shop, the lemons that I finally choose to buy and bring home are the ones that have already decided to go mouldy…and soon. They seduce me, with their taught dimpled skins and pert nipples, into believing that they are sweet young lemons, full of life and juice, but in truth they are tired old citric courtesans  just waiting for a likely punter to take them home, to a warm kitchen, where they can live out their days in comfort, rotting  in a sun bathed bowl on the window ledge with other like minded lemons. As with all clever practitioners of cosmetic artifice, they are adept at hiding the signs of ageing. The lemon, lacking any means of locomotion, must rely on stealth. To this end there is a rule in the lemon world which demands that the first manifestations of decomposition must make themselves evident only in the areas that are hidden from plain view. At this masquerade they are past mistresses ( not post mistresses, although there is a precedent for that), which means that, during my daily and perfunctory scrutiny  of the resident fruit and veg, they cunningly display a bright and unblemished yellow face to my gaze, so concealing the state of their sordid, rotting nether regions……that is, until I pick one of them up and my tactile senses let me know that all is not well long before I my eyes have grasped the enormity of the deception. On seeing the green mildewed skin my first impulse has traditionally been to throw the offending fruit into the bin, but a lemon grows in value when you realise that they they don’t grow on trees…or something critical doesn’t grow on trees. The end result of this manifestation of penury is that I now cut off the offending bit revealing a truncated but perfectly good lemon. But it’s a hard habit to break. How simple it would be to only buy one or two lemons at a time, as I do with heads of garlic, but it’s a discipline I have yet to master. Lemons, being amongst my favourite flavour enhancers, are always in demand yet, so often, it is only half a lemon that I need. This means that the fridge has a small array of half lemons that are there because I forget that they are there, so, when I reach for a lemon I go to the bowl of lemons rather than use the forgotten half lemons. Let’s be frank, I just can’t manage my lemons. I must remember that a lemon is not just for Christmas, nor is it forever…’s for today.

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, Digital photography, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, Fruit, Humour, lemons, Photography, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to Beauty is only skin deep…but it’s the skin that’s the problem

  1. Vicki (from Victoria A Photography) says:

    Great post. Most enjoyable.

    I keep 99.9% of my lemons in the crisper section of the fridge. They last longer and have way more juice that way.
    I have your ‘lemon’ problem with my tomatoes, be they organic or the supermarket variety.

  2. Darya says:

    Wonderful post! I just looked into my refrigerator, and found 2 lemon halves, and 2 lime halves. All from different fruit! They don’t look too tired though, but I will try to remember about them before cutting a new one in two.

  3. saucygander says:

    Cunning lemons!
    Today I was unable to tell which orange in our fruit bowl was the precious blood orange, and which the commonplace valencia. As a result, we have a blood orange shortage and no cake. Cunning citrus!

  4. The smell of moulding citrus also immediately alerts me.
    I recently had a job operation (medicinal) and couldn’t smell for 8 days. The first thing I could smell when I opened the door to my apartment following that was rotting citrus and my nose led me straight to the offender.

  5. Delicious writing, gorgeous words. Very very nice.

  6. I, too, chronically forget about leftover produce in the refrigerator. At least you have the right mindset of being disappointed you didn’t use all of it rather than not caring. Wastefulness is such a plague.

  7. Mad Dog says:

    It’s a sin! When life gives you lemons… 😉

  8. I am most impressed at the amount of luscious prose you can make out of one rotting lemon. I take off my hat to you. Now I will have to explain to the bloggers who read about your photos of scrummy food why they clicked on your blog and got a photo of a mouldy lemon. I am the queen of bad timing. Sigh.

    • Oh God, I’m sorry about that….you could, however, mention how clever it is to see the outside and inside of a lemon in the same picture…no one seems to have noticed it yet and it was the whole point of the post….the beauty being below the depth of the skin .

      • I did notice, and I wondered how you managed to get the inside mouldy too. But I didn’t want to ask because it sounded cheesy. Now I’ve gone and done it anyway 🙂

      • Hurrah, someone’s asked. It’s two exposures aligned and manipulated in Photoshop…I suddenly got into the idea late on Friday afternoon and started doing with all sorts of things in the kitchen…and then it became a post:)

      • OOOH! Next time I will ask my silly question straight away without hesitating. I am in awe of anyone who can fiddle photos on photoshop. Iust learn how to fiddle pics in time for those Chistmas pics – a bit like a mouldy lemon myself at times, with disgracious wrinkles around my eyes and sagging jowls. Do I get a prize for being first? A pot of lemon curd would be nice, seeing as you’ve got plenty of lemons.

      • I think you should get the prize for “disgracious”…that’s such a good word. I’ve been by the fire reading “Cider with Rosie” by Laurie Lee, from the pages of which that word could have flown:)

      • Oops, that should read “I must learn”.

  9. Misky says:

    Roger, when I use only a portion of a lemon, I place it cut surface down on a saucer and leave it on the work surface as a little reminder that the sun eventually returns and that winter is only a small part of the year. It also reminds me that it needs usin’ up because it’s bellowing at me in clear sight. I buy lemons in bulk (a dozen to a bag), and use them often in place of salt, for salad dressings, a spurt in dishwater when washing up, for cleaning wood cutting boards (yawn …. enough already) and so forth. But as always your photography is a feast to the eye.

  10. My mother-in-law had a lemon tree when she lived in Florida. No lemon will ever be the same after that. They were the size of grapefruit, always perfect when cut.

    This is a lovely set of words for a rotten lemon. You must be very devoted, Roger.

  11. Thanks Roger! A common problem, a clever solution.

  12. When I saw the title I was expecting a post about the skin on custard 😉

  13. margaret21 says:

    Great picture of a smelly problem. I have (no, had) some oranges that are closely related to your lemon. ‘Tis the season. We buy 10 kilo boxes from the Spanish Orange Man, and invariably there’s a rogue (or two) at the bottom.

  14. Even with mould you show us beauty. Lovely. I, too, was in the guilty ranks of wasteful lemon-keeping until a friend told me she cuts every half lemon of hers in half again and stores them in bags in the freezer. Among other things, they are perfect additions to those summertime gin and tonics.

  15. Andy Szpuk says:

    Roger, you’re a man who knows his onions . . . maybe

  16. Eha says:

    A sunbathed bowl in a warm kitchen ~ if you give mould prime conditions in which to grow you have no right methinks for complaint if a perfect result is achieved. . . 😉 !

  17. Michelle says:

    And don’t get me started on the limes, which go from hard as a rock to shriveled in the space of a day. (Fascinating photo.)

  18. clever “photoshopping”, Roger!

  19. mrsugarbears says:

    Lemons are my favorite, too! I always have a few petrified hiding in the back of my fridge and I always feel sad for them. They would have been great on…so many things.

  20. Cquek says:

    Lemons my favourite too I have lemon water everyday

  21. That photo is disconcerting. Now I want to bring a zester to the grocery.

  22. Ha ha! Mold never looked so good.
    Now that I have a little lemon tree growing in a container, I have plenty of fresh lemons. I leave them out on the counter for a week or two and they’re still good. It never fails to amaze me.
    When I have too many I also make lemon water. Perfect drink.

  23. ha! this is great. those cut, to-be-used-later lemons accumulate in many a fridge I suspect…

  24. EllaDee says:

    Would the lemons you buy have been in the dreaded cold storage first… Your pic just reminds me of what my mind thinks of when I see lemons in the supermarket ‘fresh produce’ section even if they don’t look like that right then.
    Lots of good tips here for lemons which I will mentally file but I don’t have issues using them up, as I start each day with half a decent size lemon in a large glass of boiling water, leaving it until the water cools to warm, then squeezing and drinking. The other half goes into a small plastic container for the next morning, is added to cold water or hot black tea and all the other usual culimary uses.
    I also hate throwing stuff out. At least with tomatoes, and many other impulse vege over-purchases they can be quickly chopped, cooked and frozen,

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