Every Easter my mother would be rummaging around in the vegetable drawer, as mothers are wont to do, and invariably a small wail of despair would emanate from her lips.
“There are NAKED lemons in my refrigerator!” Pause for calculation. “ALL my lemons are naked!”
This bothered her to no end. I myself was and remain unperturbed, even when I achieved my all-time maximum naked lemon count of 9. The sacrifice was worthy. Just as you cannot make an omelet with breaking some eggs, you cannot make many Easter breads with out stripping some lemons.
Indeed the the lemon with its fresh, sharp, bright taste appears to be associated in the European mind with Easter, from Milan to Moscow, from Vienna to Voerendaal, the lemon reigns supreme, challenged only by the equally delightful almond and the omnipotent anise.This makes sense. Though it is not the case for inhabitants of sun-kissed climes and though it may not seem like it too many us us dwelling in the fatness of unseasonable fruit and vegetables in our supermarkets, Easter is early spring in most the Northern Hemisphere (In the Southern of course it’s Autumn, but that’s a topic for another time.). There not a lot of fruiting vegetation about yet…so the lemon it is i it.
This suits me just find because lemon and almond are two of my favorite flavors, and I’m not hostile to the anise either. Mind you, it’s a bit of a chicken and the egg thing as Easter has always been, even since I was a wee tot, my favorite holiday. (What can I say? Liturgical fundamentalists are born as well as made.) But who cares? Both chicken and eggs are tasty, and so are almonds and lemons, Less chat, more eating please.
Now if you are like my mother and fear the presence of naked lemons in refrigerator or are engaged in high speed baking, there is an alternative. Lemon oil, like that put out by the good people of Boyajian, works very well. Indeed, just yesterday at Sur La Table, my hand hovered over it…but I withdrew it. I have after all 6 more lemons in the refrigerator. Let them caper naked before the empty tomb of our Risen Lord!