Tuesday, June 19, 2012

When life gives you lemons . . .


HJ: After visiting Rome and Pompeii this last week, the majority of the group went to Sorrento for a long weekend. I was expecting to see beaches, cute towns, and plenty of interesting plants, but I was surprised by the vast amounts of citrus trees along the coast. I saw lemons and oranges everywhere - alongside the train, driving to our hotel, in pots outside of restaurants. You couldn't go more than a few feet without seeing a citrus tree of some sort. Curiosity piqued, I did some research and discovered that Italy is number nine in the world for lemon, lime, and orange production, with Brazil in the number one spot for oranges and India in the number one spot for lemons and limes. In 2007, Italy produced 546,584 tons of lemons alone, and that only put them in the number nine position. I was also interested to learn that citrus plants were originally from Southeast Asia, but the top producers for the plants are in Europe and the Americas. Once again, this demonstrates the truly global nature of food production like I talked about in my last post about chocolate. Had citrus plants not been brought to first the Middle East and then to Europe, the economy and lifestyle of this part of Italy would have undoubtedly been very different.

While walking around in both Sorrento and Capri, lemon products were everywhere. Limoncello was the most frequently seen lemon-flavored treat, not surprising considering it was created in Sorrento and the town continues to be the top producer of the drink. The variety of lemon mainly grown in Sorrento is called the "Femminello St. Teresa", or just Sorrento, and as such this is the type of lemon normally used in making limoncello. I tried lemon slushes, lemon gelato, and bought lemon soap to take home with me. In many of the shops I entered, over half of the merchandise was lemon- or orange-related, demonstrating the importance of the fruit to the economy of the area. All of the lemon products I had here were by far the best I've ever tasted, and I hope I some day have the opportunity to return.

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