Lemons and Limes
It’s very surprising to find that not all Latin American counties agree on how we say and actually use limes and lemons in Puerto Vallarta. It seems that every country south of Mexico has a different way to say and even apply the use of these wonderful fruits. They can’t even agree on exactly what they are!
Recently PRI (Public Radio International) aired a piece regarding this silly frustration. For example, Chileans and Argentines apparently consider limes unripe lemons and don’t go near them. Most can’t even agree on how the words of these fruits, very predominant in Puerto Vallarta, are even pronounced. Venture very far south and you will have a problem asking for a lime; they simply aren’t a piece of the culinary culture. The word lime doesn’t exist in places like Chile.
The word for lemon in the Southern climes is limon; there is no word for lime. Limones verdes is a possibility but they don’t eat them. What most Latin countries consider a lime as we in Puerto Vallarta know it, is sour, green and smaller then a lemon; the lemon is larger, sweet in their estimation and yellow.
This all might make more sense when one realizes that neither lemons nor limes are indigenous to Mexico. They are actually hybrids that originated in Southeast Asia. The variety we are most familiar with here in Puerto Vallarta is similar to a fruit that was brought to Mexico from Spain by the conquistadores and those were brought to Spain from Asia during the Crusades.
The problem with what to call them didn’t exist before there were trade routes. There was a word for lemons and limes in the language of the cultures where these small citrus fruits existed.
Funny enough, the word lima has taken on a life of its own as a way to describe the small sweet limes we use in our Coronas and on tacos. Oddly, Lima, the capital of Peru, has nothing to do with limes or lemons; it comes from Limaq, the famous oracle of the Rímac Valley.
Songs written about limes, limones and lemons force us to use our own interpretation and imagination in deciding the color of the fruit being sung about, considering that in many places, the perplexity lies in the fact that classification of limes and lemons are completely reversed!
Que es cómo es.
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