Lime: a globetrotting fruit
Originally from India or Malaysia, the lime is the fruit of the limetree, a species of citrus distinct from the lemon. There are many types of limes, produced from hybrids of citrons (also known as cedrats, which originally meant Buddha’s hand) and several other citruses such as mandarins, pomelos, grapefruits and several varieties of polyploid citruses (i.e. fruits containing several hybrid genetic strains), such as Persian limes (a cross of lime and hybrid oranges) or Rangpur limes (a cross of mandarins and hybrid citron cedrats). The travels of limes across the continents is also atypical because it was introduced into Europe from Asia via Southern Mediterranean countries around the beginning of the first Millennium before crossing over to the America at the beginning of the 16th Century in the holds of British ships so that sailors could get their vitamin C to avoid scurvy. This practice remained a military for a number of years, so that other naval powers would not be able to keep their sailors for longer periods of time. To encourage British sailors to consume this very sour fruit, their lime was mixed with their daily ration of rum, thus creating one of the first exotic cocktails. This practice also led to the slightly disparaging nickname of Limeys, coined by the Americans to describe Englishmen. Lime has of course become one of the preferred fruits of barmen and mixologists, serving as the essential base for mojitos, margaritas, du daiquiris, caipirinhas and a host of other cocktails. Limes are also a key ingredient in desserts, pastries, sorbets, plated desserts and in many savory dishes, in particular in Asian cooking.