Preserved Lemons

     The old saying goes when life gives you lemons make lemonade.  I always hated that saying.  I felt it must have been penned by some really wonderful, yet sickening, optimistic person (which those who know me realize, alas, I am not this type), or more likely penned by someone on strong antidepressants.  Sometimes life hands over something much worse than lemons and what are you going to make out of that? A mud pie?  Eat that …. No thank you!  It kinda reminds me of the scene in The Help and the special chocolate pie that Hilly is served up.  While she did without a doubt deserve that special treat, most of us do not and it kinda sucks when it happens.

     Rant aside, I guess, I know, a person’s viewpoint has a lot to do with how they cope with a situation.  Since May Eric has been looking for a job.  Now it has gotten to the point were any job will do.  He got a call from the college he attended, specifically the department in which we worked as a student many months ago, informing him that someone was interested in being tutored.  Who was it? A 60+ year old lady that is interested in learning all the nuances of photoshop.  “Why?” I wondered aloud to Eric after he told me the news.  Simply put, “She wants to be creative,” he replied.
     When I found out her last name was Jaffar, I was excited.  It conjured up the fragrant smells and colorful dishes of one of my all-time favorite cuisines, Indian.  I was hoping that this job worked out and of special interest to me, she would share some of her culinary wisdom.  I was taking for granted she did in fact have this said culinary wisdom.  Eric’s first day as a teacher, tutoring this women in all the facets of photoshop, was yesterday.  I was at work all day texting him in an attempt to find out how it was going.  He was not responding and I imaged that this job was a scam and he was being tortured or murdered somewhere.  (As I said I am not the optimistic type.) It turned out far better than that. In fact said women is Indian, does cook, and had all kinds of special things to share with him.  Not wanting to appear rude and also too busy drinking chai tea and eating up the little delicacies that she had to share with him, he could not text me back.




     A generous soul, she sent him home with tiny little flat breads which were light as air with a mild taste.  I am used to the typical naan bread that is served in most Indian restaurants but these were very different.  They were very thin and hollow on the inside. As far as looks they reminded me of a flat snicker-doodle (a cookie for you that are unaware).  For lack of a better word they were also very “bendy” like a tortilla, and were the perfect vehicle for which to hold the other delight she sent home with him.  Ironically it was a jar of preserved lemons.  Whole lemons (rind was not removed) were sliced into 1/2 inch rounds then quartered so they looked like the slice of a pie.  The mixture must have been homemade because it was contained in a recycled guava jam jar.  Beside for lemons, the mixture included chunks of fresh ginger and an unfamiliar, tiny, crunchy, piquant, green chili that had been quartered and added to the jar.  Over this was poured a unique tasting liquid.  I could not put my finger on what it contained.  It was acidic, tangy, sour, salty and spicy.  (I am salivating now as I proofread this paragraph.) As I ate the lemons along with the ginger and peppers, the favors exploded against my taste buds, it was wonderful and comforting at the same time.  It takes great skill and hard work to make from something so sour, a pleasing and wonderful snack.  Now I prefer my own saying and perhaps those of Indian Ladies, “When life hands you lemons, preserve them into submission.”  I am hoping that there will be more photoshop lessons and that I can receive a lesson of my own in this Indian kitchen. We will see.

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