Most of my life, when I wanted to experience this thing called “winter,” I would head to Big Bear or Tahoe and go see the snow for maybe a day or two then go home. That would be plenty of cold weather living to last me a year. It’s probably very nice when you’re a kid, but as an adult, real winters wreak havoc on your life in so many ways. So it was mostly the weather and the depressing grayness that had been blanketing Paris for the last few weeks before my departure that made me feel like it was really time to go.

Initially, I felt ambivalent about my return. For instance, driving at 85 mph on the freeway seemed really fast and dangerous yet totally natural. I wasn’t sure what that meant or what it meant to be in LA again, and for the first few days I would wonder things like, “Will I go back?” or “Can I still have a healthy relationship with duck fat outside of France?”

A week later, as I was working in the yard, things started to make sense. Because when you’re able to garden outside and feel the warmth of the sun in December, who needs Paris — at least the Paris of rain and snow — when there are so many Meyer lemons in the backyard to be picked?

A blend between an ordinary lemon and an orange, and the best citrus EVER — there are practically sonnets written celebrating this winter fruit — Meyer lemons are officially on my top ten reasons why California is so freaking rad.

From sidecars to lemon bars, Meyer lemons just make these things taste sweeter and brighter. It’s like that bit of sunshine that peeks out in the afternoon after a LA thunderstorm. And just being able to do some pruning in shorts with a sun hat in December? WAY better than being stuck indoors, typing mopey emails in fingerless gloves.

Sidecar

1  oz. Cognac
1  oz. Cointreau
¾ oz. freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice

Shake all the ingredients with ice and strain into a sugar-rimmed glass.

Lemon bars

(My sister’s recipe, but she might share in the comments section, if she reads this.)

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