What, No Lemons?

There are no lemons in Mexico. I was told this by a Mexico City native in 2014 while on a taco tour in Puerto Vallarta. I was told the same again by another Mexico City native when I went to that city in the fall of 2019. And standing in line at the Latin butcher in Vancouver I asked the guy behind me about any lemons in Mexico. Nope.

Real Lemon

I didn’t expect to find a lemonade stand in Mexico and that’s a place with many food stands. I didn’t expect to see a limeade stand, either.

However, I did see a lot of fresh-cut fruit stands with lime wedges to squeeze over the bite-sized fruit. The cups of fruit were also served with a dusting of powered dried chille. Or the commercial product of lime and chille. It’s a Mexican essential flavour.

Some of those stands are run by 10 year-old kids. They peel and chop (with a sharp knife) and place fruit in the cup, and take money. They do it over and over until it’s time to go home.

I can’t imagine that running a lemonade stand would be a Mexican kid’s idea of fun. Kids with lemonade stands here are playing; the money they make isn’t going to buy more fruit to peel, cut, and serve, or buy school supplies, or clothes, or toothpaste. But if one of those kids did run one, they would use real lemons to make the lemonade and not frozen from a concentrate like most of the kid’s lemonade stands I’ve encountered here.

Green Food  

A fresh wedge of lime with tacos is a given in Mexico. And you probably already know that a wedge of lime with a lager is good. A micheladas is the same thing but with the addition of salt on the glass rim (if it’s hot you have to keep salt in the body somehow). Or how about a margarita?

Mexican limes, called limón in Spanish, are very juicy with a thin skin. The Spaniards brought them to Mexico though I doubt they knew or cared that limes would be a perfect match for the two main indigenous foods, corn and chiles. But they go together like they were were all born in the same place.

Limes are green because they are picked unripe and sold this way. That’s how they’re eaten. They turn yellow when fully ripe. Often you see limes in Mexican markets with bits of yellow or entirely yellow. They’re worth getting as the natural sugars change so they taste a little different. Not as tart, but still very tart.

Yellow or green, limes never taste like lemons. They are more bitter. All limes are are smaller than lemons but Mexican ones are slightly larger than a walnut and rounder and very juicy. They are also more acidic than Persian limes, where limes originated. Persian limes are the kind sold here but they’re grown in Mexico.

Vitamin C

Like all citrus fruit there is vitamin C in limes. Lemons have more of it, though. Lemons were initially used on voyages in the 17th century to prevent scurvy. But limes were substituted for lemons because they were easier to get along the Caribbean route and so cheaper (or free) for the owners of the ships. Nobody knew anything about vitamins then but it’s why British people are called ‘limeys’. I don’t think a sailor’s life was worth very much as they also ate rats to ward off scurvy. I suppose the tart lime juice would have been a welcome chaser. Sheesh.

Although lemons may have more vitamin C, it’s cooked out if heated so forget this health property in lemon meringue pie or lemon squares, or lemon poppy seed loaf, or lemon chiffon cake, or lemon pound cake or Greek potatoes. BTW, those potatoes made with fresh lime juice didn’t work. I thought I’d try.


I’m glad I live in Canada where there are both lemons and limes. They are very different and can’t be used interchangeably. Having both means I can have a beer with salt and lime, Greek potatoes, fish tacos, and a piece of lemon meringue pie. A perfect dinner.