We were shopping for groceries last weekend and needed limes. I was dismayed to find them priced at 89 cents each. Normally, they cost about a quarter.
“Do they think we’re rubes?” I said. “Forget it. We’ll buy them somewhere else.”
The next day, we were Somewhere Else. And guess what? They were selling limes for 99 cents each. At that point we just bit the bullet, because I didn’t want to go back to the other place and buy them. That would have been admitting defeat.
Something similar happened during my road trip in 2011. On Day 2, I pulled into Billings, Montana. I had budgeted $50 a night for lodging, and when the Days Inn quoted me a price of $99, I balked. By “balked” I mean I basically laughed in their faces and told them I’d take my business elsewhere. After all, there was a Super 8 across the street, and several other motels nearby. Only the Super 8 wanted $109 and the others were asking at least as much. So half an hour later I returned to Days Inn with my tail between my legs and humbly requested one of their perfectly lovely $99 rooms. The moral of the story? Keep your thoughts to yourself, I guess. Or don’t visit Billings in June and expect to find a good deal.
So anyway, we paid a fortune for limes, because what was the alternative? Going without limes?? That’s crazy talk. They’re an essential ingredient in our household, and I’m not just referring to margaritas, folks!
There are gin and tonics, as well.
We don’t just use limes in booze. The other day, I made carnitas tacos. You’ve gotta have a squeeze of lime with those. And what about pho? Pad thai? Albondigas? Key lime pie?! All of those require limes. (And check out all my groovy rhymes).
And don’t just suggest we substitute lemons. Lemons are NOT limes. They’re vastly inferior. If life hands you lemons, hand them back and ask for limes instead. That’s my motto.
It turns out the reason for the rise in lime prices is due to a combination of factors including a weather-decimated harvest, a citrus tree bacterial disease, and the Knights Templar, a group that sounds like they came straight out of a Dan Brown novel but is really a Mexican drug cartel. Because of high lime prices, their operatives have taken to hijacking farmer’s trucks and demanding ransom payments in order to get past cartel-controlled checkpoints. Violence and bloodshed have ensued. And because 98% of our lime crop is imported from Mexico, it’s not like we’ve got anywhere else to turn. As a result, many bartenders are removing margaritas from their Happy Hour menus, discontinuing lime-based cocktails, and charging extra for lime wedges. No wonder people are referring to the fruit as “green gold.” Crazy, huh?
I long for the good ol’ days, when drug cartels were concerned with…you know…drugs. Leave the poor lime farmers alone! They’re already dealing with the aftereffects of the polar vortex. Will a black market lime industry spring up now? Am I going to have to drive into the shady part of town and exchange a wad of cash for a bag of citrus fruit, all while looking over my shoulder for the po-po? Man, if Breaking Bad was hitting the airwaves now, Walter White would be a former gardener-turned-lime tree grower renowned for his super juicy, tart green product, and Hank would be the USDA agent tasked with finding the mastermind behind the operation. Better call Saul? Better call a soil expert.
I’m really hoping this crisis is resolved soon. Having to forgo limes would put me in a pretty “sour” mood…