Why I Have a Mild Obsession with Finger Limes
We have entered the dark times. Not just metaphorically (or politically or socially), but physically. With the end of Daylight Saving Time, the sun will set at 4:46 today and a little bit earlier each day until early January. Maybe you're a person for whom this is a celestial mandate to snug on down. Hygge is your love language and you buy cable-knit items and mulling spices by the bushel. You thrive when your breath is visible in the air, and could feasibly subsist on holiday cookies until the last frost thaws. How very freaking delightful for you. For people like me with seasonal affective disorder, this is the time of year that tries our souls. We crave warmth and light. I crave finger limes.
Here's what finger limes are: Australian native (mine come from California) microcitrus that grows in a cylindrical shape, in a range of colors between green and deep pink. They top out at about three inches in length, with a circumference around the thickness of, unsurprisingly, a finger. They're nifty to look at, but even more entertaining to eat. The juice vesicles (a.k.a. the pulp) isn't in the usual citrus droplet form, but rather in little bitty balls. Slice the fruit open horizontally or vertically, squeeze, and they'll burst onto your plate—or straight into your mouth—like a tart, crisp caviar.
Here's how finger limes make me feel: Sunny from the inside out. The flavor is a bright shock, like the culinary equivalent of briefly sticking my tongue in a light socket, but in a fun way. I self-medicate my dampening mood with citrus when it's in its peak season—which just happens to be while I'm at my emotional nadir—but have acclimated to the soft, perfumed pleasures of the satsuma, mandarin, honeybell, clementine, and pomelo. Finger limes jolt me to attention, demand my full sensory presence as I pop each crisp globe with my teeth, feel the little sour supernovas boom one after the other, inhale the citron peel that has me slapping around for nonexistent mosquitos in the dead of winter.
This might sound like an exaggeration, but it's not, really. It's a long, grey, glum slog through the cold dark months, and these edible reminders of a warmer, brighter place can jolt me out of that, even for a minute or two. Plenty of recipes, blogs, and the like recommend squeezing the lime innards onto avocados and seafood or into drinks, but I'll take mine straight from the skin. It's just my little way of giving the season the finger.