Tag Archives: Thomas Friedman

Turkish lemons, Egyptian “lemon squeezers”

Cesme lemons I just keep learning new things about lemons. On my recent trip to Turkey, I visited Alacati, on the Çesme peninsula of the Aegean Coast, and there I was introduced to a special kind of lemon called Çesme lemons.

The Çesme lemon is much like a lemon from the Amalfi Coast: the rind and albedo (pith) are both slightly sweet, and the lemon pulp is less acid than a normal lemon — which means you can eat the whole lemon, peel and all. (Well, at least I can. And, no, I wouldn’t do that with a normal lemon.)

big lemonsThe Çesme lemon is also BIG. In the photo, I’m holding a normal-size lemon in my left hand (also from Turkey), and the Çesme lemon is on the right.

lemonsinnetting

Some fish restaurants in Turkey tie netting over the lemon halves so you can squeeze the juice without getting the seeds.

Okay, what’s this about Egyptian lemon squeezers?

In Thomas Friedman’s New York Times’ column about life and politics in Egypt (June 16, 2013), he explains an Egyptian expression: “when you are forced to do or eat something unpleasant you say: ‘I squeezed lemon all over it first.'”  (Friedman says that non-Islamists who voted for President Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood are referred to as “lemon squeezers.”)

In other words, lemon juice makes everything more palatable.

What’s so interesting about this expression is that it’s the opposite of our “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” saying, which implies that sugar is needed to make lemons themselves palatable. In the Egyptian expression, it’s the lemons that are valuable. No sugar added.

Stay tuned for more about lemons in Turkey — the lemon storage caves of Cappadocia!

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