31 May 2009
Wine me, dine me, finger lime me
These gorgeous things are becoming my new obsession. They are called finger limes and may well be the sexiest citrus fruit ever. I mean, just look at them! Their exquisitely elongated form echoes the shape of the banana and cucumber, those pedestrian fruit more traditionally associated with the erotic arts. However, when the skin of the finger lime is ruptured, all these sap-filled vesicles come bursting forth, an aromatic explosion of lime-tastic goodness. Am I crazy, or does that sound like a near-perfect description of culinary orgasm?
As you can tell from the scientific name, Citrus australasica, the finger lime is native to Australia. It's a thorny tree almost 10 m in height, endemic to subtropical rainforests from northern New South Wales to southern Queensland. The genetic diversity latent in finger limes is evidenced by the huge number of varieties known. The peel colour is very variable and ranges from yellow to green, burgundy and almost black. Beat that, banana skins! The pulp also varies from palest pearl to deepest ruby, with each colour having a unique flavour all its own.
Finger limes are making real headway into the fancy restaurants and boutique grocers of the world, but I'm yet to find one of these tangy beauties anywhere near where I live. In the meantime, a boy can dream, can't he? They can be used in any dish that calls for conventional limes, and are particularly suited to seafood dishes or those with a Southeast Asian influence. With those zesty vesicles shimmering like salmon roe, it's no wonder they've been called 'rainforest caviar'. Imagine some of these added to your favourite after-work drink: instant jungle-style sophistication. Finger limes are especially prized in the world of molecular gastronomy. Ferran Adrià, chef of the fabled elBulli restaurant on the Spanish Costa Brava, was apparently moved to tears by his first experience with finger limes.
That's okay: many people cry after their first time.
Citrus pr0n credits: top © El Aderezo; middle © Stuart Cohen; bottom © D.T. Pearson.