Lemons are a staple of any Italian kitchen. The juice and rind go into innumerable dishes. Lamb, pork and beef, as well as fish, are served with a wedge of lemon. A twist of lemon peel served with your espresso got its start in America from a famous (unknown) restaurateur who wanted to put the stamp of his love of lemons combined with his favourite brew.
Lemons grow in many parts of Italy, thriving in the warm, dry Mediterranean climate; therefore, it should not surprise one that the tart taste is often the staple of many Mediterranean cuisines.
Lemons are mostly grown on the Amalfi Coast and in Sicily, although the Amalfi Coast claims to be home to the authentic lemon. Sicilian lemons are the most well-known lemons in Italy and throughout Europe.
Italians are not immune to the attraction of lemons and if you look around you will find them in numerous surprising places on Italian menus. Veal Piccata is a great example although lemons are seen to grace and brighten many dishes including salads, drinks, desserts and as mentioned above, espresso.
Lemons have been grown for hundreds of years in Italy and early Romans even considered the fragrant fruit a perfume rather than a fruit. Medieval chefs soon came to realise that the lemon was more than a delicious perfume and included the fruit in many of their culinary creations.
Lemons grace numerous Italian dishes from a gentle squeeze in salads and plates of chicken to the curl of the zest in espresso – these bright yellow fruits are popular and shine in every course of an Italian meal.
Indeed, natural is perhaps the truest adjective to encompass the essence of Italian cuisine.