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What, no limes for Cinco de Mayo? April 27, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. You’ve probably heard about the lime shortage that’s causing soaring prices and a lot of heartache to Mexican, Thai, and other restaurants that rely on limes in their cuisine and drinks. A whopping 95% of our limes are imported from Mexico, and winter downpours there have set back the lime crop, resulting in late ripening. The fact that druglords charge the lime growers outrageous “export fees” (and, Godfather-like, make them “offers they can’t refuse” if they don’t pay them) doesn’t help prices, either.

The remaining 5% of limes in the U.S. are grown in California and Florida. A three-year drought has literally dried up California’s lime crop, and Florida’s has been hit with a citrus disease that keeps the fruit from ripening. It’s predicted that the Mexican lime crop won’t arrive here in time for Cinco de Mayo, that great celebration of all things Mexican (and margarita). What’s a margarita lover to do?!

The few cases of limes that have managed to make it into the U.S. are so expensive that they’re forcing restaurateurs to get creative. One Mexican restaurant in California now offers patrons margaritas for 25 cents if they’ll bring in limes from their own backyard trees. Others have raised the prices of their top-shelf margaritas or refrained from adding slices of lime unless they’re specifically requested by the customer. Still others are experimenting with substituting lemon juice in dishes like ceviche and guacamole.

What does this mean for your Cinco de Mayo party? Probably not that much. Limes are going for 99 cents each or $2 a bag at Wegman’s, a high-end grocery, so they’re probably less at your local store. It’s not a huge sacrifice to splurge on a few limes for your fiesta. Or you could go for a paloma, a drink that’s more popular in Mexico than margaritas.

This delicious, refreshing drink is traditionally made with tequila and a Mexican white grapefruit soda (the drink’s golden color caused its originator to name it for the beautiful golden paloma horse). But as white grapefruit soda isn’t that easy to find in my part of rural PA and I happen to love pink grapefruit juice, I devised my own version. Allow me to present the Pink Paloma:

Fill a tall glass 1/4 full with golden tequila; add a splash of Triple Sec. Add pink grapefruit juice (no pulp, no added sweetener!) to bring the glass to half full. Top it off with mandarin orange seltzer water (again, unsweetened). So delicious! And it’s much less heavy and syrupy than most margaritas. Add a slice of lime at your discretion.

‘Til next time,