Don't @ me
lemon slice
Credit: Photo by Chris Turner via Getty Images

Lemons are the best fruit, followed closely by limes. If your geographic or cultural circumstances cause the particular order of those two to be flipped, that is totally valid, but otherwise, this statement is correct. Argue all you'd like for cherries, mangoes, berries of all sorts, or mangosteens (which are truly marvelous), but lemons are the best fruit and it's time to accept that. Perhaps should we talk about what best means? We probably ought to because I don't really feel like having fruit lobbed at me in the streets—except lemons, of course. Those, I'd stuff in my bag and take home. Seeing as they're the best and all.

Best doesn't mean tastes the best. I'd have specified that, and the answer would be in-season peaches, or possibly pineapple, depending on how the year is going. Every once in a while there's a rash of clementines to which I'd consider starting a minor religion. I have cherries tattooed upon my person, should you happen to need tangible appreciation of my appreciation for fruit (I picked them in part because they are the prettiest fruit). Despite what you may think, I am not in the pocket of Big Lemon—yet.

I would gladly sell out to Big Lemon, because ideally it would subsidize my ridiculous lemon consumption. I didn't really think about this until recently, but I'm a solid one-to-two lemon a day person, sometimes more. Throughout the day, I squeeze lemons into my seltzer or tea, and at night they make their way into cocktails, dressings, sauces, marinades, stews, roasts, under the skin of poultry, and whatever I'm pressure cooking in the Instant Pot. When it's time for dessert, I will always opt for lemon over some sort of creamy or fudgy nonsense. I zest-dust everything. I eat so damn many lemons and I don't even realize it, like they were my mousy, glasses-and-overalls-wearing best chum who suddenly descends the stairs in their prom togs and I'm all Whoa, have you been right here under my nose all along? and we start making out.

Lemons are the best because they are there for me always. Though yes, winter is peak season for citrus, they're of solid quality throughout the year. I don't have to engage in some skittish little dance trying to suss out the 72 hours of the whole year that they're fresh, ripe, and worth eating, and if I miss it, I'm either left missing out on them entirely, or wrenching my face into a grin and attempting to fool myself into believing that I'm thrilled to be eating this wan, rotting melon. Lemons would never vex me so. They're perfectly sized, last a hell of a long time if you treat them at all sanely, and they're just what you need them to be the vast majority of the time in a way that most fruits aren't. If I were stranded on a deserted island and allowed but one fruit, you bet your ass it'd be lemons because: ceviche. Can your pretty little blueberry do that?

I feel defensive of the long shat-upon lemon. Their good name is so despoiled by close association with terrible automotive craftsmanship that there are actual "lemon laws" on the books to protect consumers from being stuck with a bad car. There's that whole "when life hands you lemons" cliche that operates on the assumption that if you were gifted with lemons, you'd be dismayed. No. The correct response would be to say: Thank you for bringing me the best possible fruit. It's like you know my soul. Should we make out now? Even if it does not get weirdly physical between you, what that person would be saying is that they know you are a highly discerning human who does not need to be spoon-fed sweet sweetness, and perhaps they don't want you to get scurvy. That is the greatest love of all. Next to the love of lemons.

p.s. Don't make out with lemons. That's weird.