Friday, July 29, 2011

Mystery fruit

On the ferry there are usually one or 2 little kids selling pocket packs of tissues. Tourist price one Egyptian pound each. Locals get two packs for that price. There are roughly 6 Egyptian pounds to the U.S. dollar right now, by the way. So the price is less than 20 cents for one or two packs, depending.

For the past couple of weeks, other little kids have been selling clear plastic bags filled with laymun. The price of these is one Egyptian pound per bag.

I thought these little green fruits must be limes. The Arabic word laymun sounds similar. And these fruits look like limes, although not exactly like any limes I'm familiar with.

So I finally got up the nerve to spend big bucks and buy a bag. The seller—a boy maybe 10 years old—told me, in English, "eleven". Sure enough, there were eleven items in the bag.

So, what is a laymun? Or what are laymun? The word laymun is the same for singular and plural, I'm told.

Laymun are indeed limes. But not like any limes most of my readers have ever seen. These limes are small, and more round than ellipsoid, but not perfectly round either. The length and the diameter are each less than 2 inches (4 centimeters or less.) The color is a vivid green or yellow-green.

These limes are certainly tart! I suspect that these are similar to the limes that the children craved in Little Women, by the way. And I bet these limes would make wonderful limeade, if I knew how to make lemonade or limeade. But on the internet I found the suggestion of pouring boiling water over a lime (cut open), making a refreshing summer beverage. I'll have to try that. It should be very healthful, too. Limes are supposed to be beneficial in remedying all kinds of medical conditions.

Believe it or not, sampling these limes is also research! These tiny fruits are probably much less hybridized than their giant supermarket counterparts. (I'm just guessing about this.) In other words, these limes would be genetically more ancient. So I'm hoping that they're similar to the first limes to be cultivated in the Middle East/North Africa region, a little more than three thousand years ago. Limes were the first citrus fruit to be cultivated, by the way. I believe they came from the Far East.

I find that these limes improve a cup of tea. Just divide one almost all the way through, and then perch it on the rim of your full-to-the-brim tea cup. It adds a subtle zing.

I wish the internet could transmit flavor, so your teeth could be set on edge by one of these little babies!

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