In a rare episode of synchronicity in the universe, I decided that I wanted to make preserved lemons one day last week, and scarcely a day later I received an e-mail from my friend Alice telling me that if I would split it with her, she would accept the gift of a truckload of lemons from a colleague in California. I had not actually envisioned preserving half a truckload, though, so I am deeply engaged in hunting for things to do with my bounty once it is received.
I must say that its a pleasure to think about something as inherently clean, and fresh and bright as a lemon in the middle of my late-winter torpor. In addition to the things I customarily do with lemons, which include baking lemon squares and lemon meringue pie, cooking Chicken Piccata, making acidulated water to keep my potatoes and apples from browning after I slice them, and making fresh lemonade, I have discovered the possibility of making lemon curd (which I would rely on as my only source of calories if it weren’t frowned upon, and which I usually buy in small expensive jars imported from England), lemon bread, Lasagnette with Lemon, and, oh my dear Lord, limoncello.
Once I am done cooking, I can also apparently get rid of tough stains on marble, neutralize cat box odor, clean my tarnished brass, refresh my cutting boards, freshen the fridge, clean my microwave and garbage disposal, remove unsightly underarm stains and, whiten regular laundry and brighten delicates. This all seems to involve much more housework than I am ever going to do, but it is exciting to think about the fact that if I wanted to, I could use some of my lemons to make the world a better place for our cats and anyone who chooses to inspect our laundry, marble or brass. If I’m running low, though, the limoncello will definitely trump the cleaning, freshening or deodorizing of anything.
My favorite possibilities, however, involve self-beautification. I am, after all, a person who would willingly bathe in asses milk like Cleopatra did if I were able to find any asses milk. Through the Magic of Citrus, I can lighten age spots, whiten nails, freshen my breath, lighten my hair (although I seem to remember pretty inconclusive results from trying that one in middle school), soften my elbows, remove berry stains (in the unlikely event that I ever, again, come in contact with an actual berry), and, if things really head south, I can cure both dandruff and warts.
Okay, now I’m exhausted just thinking about all of that cooking and cleaning and self-improvement. I think I’ll just go whiten my whites with plain old bleach, and avoid thinking about my rough elbows while I wait for my lemons.