Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Elusive....Meyer Lemon and Sunchoke....

Before you begin to mock me (I know I would), hear me out. For the past few years, I've been hearing about how wonderful it is to cook with the sunchoke and the Meyer lemon. Loving to cook, I set out on a mission:

1. Figure out exactly what a sunchoke is.

2. Search the supermarket for Meyer lemons.

3. Find recipes with both ingredients.


Sounds simple, but you're wrong. Dead wrong. Well, items #1 and #3 were easy, but item #2 is impossible. I use the word "is" because I'm still on the hunt for it, and true to form, my search has left me laughing. Literally.

Before I tell you about my search for the elusive Meyer Lemon, let me define the sunchoke. A sunchoke, according to my Cook's Dictionary and Culinary Reference by Bartlett is a Jerusalem artichoke. Hmmmm... that's it. Why the fuss? I guess it helps to know that a Jerusalem artichoke is probably not what you envision, or at least what I envisioned. I envisioned a run-of-mill artichoke from Israel, but I'm wrong. Thank you Cook's Dictionary, I do cherish you, but sometimes I don't even understand the definitions and turned to Google. According to Wikipedia, it is a Jerusalem artichoke, which is a species of sunflowers native to eastern North America, and found from Eastern Canada and Maine west to North Dakota, and south to northern Florida and Texas.[1] It is also cultivated widely across the temperate zone for its tuber, which is used as a root vegetable.

Once learning the sunchoke was more than what I imagined it to be, I understood the fascination...or maybe not. I just remember growing sunflowers when I was a kid and can't imagine my parents being okay with me pulling up the plant and chomping on the tuber. But I know one day, I'll try it.

However, back to the real purpose of today's entry: Searching for the elusive Meyer Lemon (sure, sunchoke is in the title because I have a feeling I'll run into a wall when looking for them too). I've been to 3 markets; 2 major supermarket chains and Whole Foods.

In the first supermarket chain, I didn't ask for help, but in the 2nd one I asked for help. Their produce section, in my opinion, is better than the first one, but the response I received had me cracking up. The produce guy kept repeating "You want a bottle of lemon juice?". No,no, that's not what I wanted, but realized when I kept trying to explain to him it is an actual lemon, and the puzzled look on his face was not disappearing, I figured the store didn't carry them.

YogaGirl told me to try Whole Foods. They are good about carrying some unusual veggies (hmmm...bet they have sunchokes) and when I asked the produce guy, he looked at me as if I had 2 heads. As soon as he began to speak, I understood the reason for the look; he really didn't speak English. However, I was able to discern they didn't have them in stock, but they will be in the store later. Later? Is that later today, tomorrow, August, December? Just got the answer of later.

I emailed the store to ask if and when they carry Meyer lemons. I figured whoever is reading the email will respond with an answer I'll be able to understand.

Note: If you have a recipe calling for 3 Meyer lemons and can't find them, use 2 regular lemons and one clementine.

12 comments:

So. Cal. Gal said...

Maybe 'later' is the only English word the guy knew.

Treading Lightly said...

Although I'm not sure if this is appropriate to your situation you can order them and have them shipped from http://www.meyerlemonsandkiwis.com/ but a ten pound box runs sixty dollars. Good luck on your search.

Brian Miller said...

haha so cal...think he might have been getting rid of the lady asking for lemon juice...smiles. best wishes in finding these...i think ordering may be the way to go. sunchoke...intersting....

Spot said...

What on earth do you cook that has artichokes and lemons in it?! I'm not sure that sounds appetizing.

Funny post! I once had to take a picture of shallots at the grocery store to send to my sister who had no idea what they were.

Good luck with your search!

♥Spot

Little Ms Blogger said...

So Cal Gal - LOL. That & the only word he figured that would get me to leave him alone while unpacking a box of potatoes for display.

Treading Lightly - 10 lbs? I know you're supposed to make lemonade out of lemons but 10 lbs for $60 YIKES...

Brian - EXACTLY -- however, the lemon juice was just rude, the later guy was at least pleasant.

Spot - the artichoke is actually not what you think, it's the tuber from a sunflower plant. They just call a sunchoke a Jerusalem artichoke to confuse people like me. Artichokes & lemons are a natural together - you'd squeeze freeze lemons over a steamed artichoke. However, I was/am looking to use them independently.

The shallot comment cracked me up.

Matty said...

I never heard of either, so this is a real lesson for me.

blueviolet said...

I hadn't heard of either of those things. I would have given up on that recipe. You're hardcore!

Little Ms Blogger said...

Matty - I always love when I learn something new.

BV - I haven't found a sunchoke recipe yet, but did find a Meyer Lemon one. I substituted meyer lemons with regular lemons and clementines.

Logical Libby said...

Sunchokes seem to be in every recipe I see now It's like they're the new kale.

Little Ms Blogger said...

Logical Libby - or the new fennel. I see fennel in every recipe and hope the fascination with it ends soon because I hate it so.

Dan said...

At least I knew what a Jerusalem Artichoke was. As far as lemones go, all the stores out here only carry the standard Florida Lemon - so no fancy lemons for me.

This is the only sunchoke recipe I have tried - it is close to a soup that my pioneering/settler grandmother made: http://homecooking.about.com/od/soups/r/blss148.htm

Sullygirl said...

A Meyer Lemon is a totally different animal from what you would find in a grocery store. They are yellow and the size of a lemon, but the shape of an orange. They are grown primaily in CA and thier main harvest is in the winter (December).
If you are in the NY metro area, try one of the boutique shops like Zabars or Mario's new Market in midtown. They do fruit year round, but the primary crop is in the winter. You may be able to out your hands on a few at one of these "super" markets.