Thursday, April 23, 2009

Life Gave Me Limones

Like I said, I get giddy at the fruit and vegetable market. Allow me to compare this type of manic behavior to something similar to a child who hoards Flamin' Hot Cheetos at the class party because he can't have them when he wants. If you don't have children, haven't been around them recently, or have children and don't yet know their dangers, let me explain to you that American children are obsessed with "Flamin' Hots", its street name, if you will, because they seem to be as addictive as crack. And, from my experience as a teacher of Flamin' Hot-addicted children on various campuses spanning from Chicago to Austin, there will be an equal number of bags of Flamin' Hots as there are students in your class if you, the teacher, do not explicitly place a limit on the number of bags allowed at the party. 

Now where was I?? Right, my obsession with the fruit and vegetable market... I get so psychologically derailed that I lose all sense of time, money, proportion, and apparently, estimation, as I seem to have bought a few too many limes than two people can consume. Not only did I forget that one kilo of limes is not the same as asking for one kilo of mangoes, I also easily forget--in the heat of these blissful moments-- that one kilo is not one pound. So, anyway, I find myself in a "mango moment" and am counting the ways to use limes.... limeade, key lime pie, sopa de lima, homemade household cleaner, lime dressing, lime chicken... the list is endless. 

If nothing else, a great centerpiece on the table

Here is a random excerpt from Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan of lime's historical and healthful significance, especially pertinent to Mexican cuisine: 

"The strong spices characteristic of many cuisines in the tropics, where food is quick to spoil, have antibacterial properties. The meso-American practice of cooking corn with lime and serving it with beans, like the Asian practice of fermenting soy and serving it with rice, turn out to render these plant species much more nutritious than they otherwise would be... unless corn is cooked with an alkali like lime its niacin is unavailable, leading to the nutritional deficiency called pellagra. Corn and beans each lack an essential amino acid (lysine and methionine, respectively); eat them together and the proper balance is restored." --pg. 296

So, eat up, friends, 'cuz this stuff is gooooood for you! 

(UPDATE: Mexico Bob has informed me that the lime Pollan refers to in his book is not the fruity lime I've been writing about. The previous refers to the process of "nixtamalization" using calcium hydroxide to make maize more nutritious and derives its name from the Nahautl (the Aztec language) word nixtamalli.) 


  1. Alice,
    I think the lime they are talking about is calcium hydroxide and not limones as in the fruit "lime".

  2. Thanks for the information--need to update my post with the interesting process of nixtamalization. Do you know how the indigenous obtained their calcium hydroxide? I wonder if Michael Pollan knows the difference because it is very misleading to nacos like myself...

  3. Alice,
    Check this out. "How to cook with limes".