Someday when I see the sale card announcing "12 Lemons for a Dollar" at the grocery store, I’m going to buy all 12 instead of just two or three. Then I will fix all the lemon dishes I can think of. Or maybe if it’s summer, I’ll turn them into a big pot of lemonade—as one elderly gentleman told me he was going to do when he saw
me watching him bag up about 24 lemons during a recent lemon sale. Some year, I may even go a step further and plant a lemon tree; our part of Texas is almost far enough south to risk the occasional freezes.
A lemon is such an unlikely food with its pure and sunny color, indestructible wrapper, intensely sour juice, and even more intense, fragrant zest that is full of volatile oils. And lemons are loved and available worldwide. Greek and Lebanese cuisines, for instance, are especially beholden to the spice of the lemon. (Native to Asia, lemons were introduced to the Christian world when the Crusaders discovered them in Palestine.)
So distinct is lemon’s flavor and aroma, and so easily obtained, that makers of everything from furniture polish to candy to powdered drinks use the actual oil, essence, and citric acid of the lemon instead of relying on chemical substitutes, something that cannot be said of most other fruit and flower flavors. Lemon was the first flavor to be used in soda water in the 1840s.