Lemon: four stars for what is usually a four star fruit. I’d like you to imagine your ten favourite foods. Write down their names on a readily available scrap of paper– or, if you are a more visual type, feel free to pull out your most brightly coloured pencils and sketch each food. The award for the best sketch will be chosen by a panel of three mendicant nuns. Now, I’m willing to bet that every single item in your list of favourite foods contains lemon in some form or other. Such is the culinary power of the lemon, and such is its paradox: it is both an ornamentation, an added bonus, as well as an essential ingredient in any larder. I squeezed this particular specimen into a small coffee cup and sipped the juice. I let the juice linger in my mouth without swallowing, and observed the progression of the flavour. Try it for yourself one summer’s day.

I went down to the store room to take stock of the orange juice. There were two barrels, with each barrel containing seventy litres. This was enough for my eldest nephew to consume the daily required intake of five litres per day, for four whole weeks. This amount of orange juice would provide sufficient protein and energy to sustain my nephew. To make the five week journey, however, he would need to either reduce his daily intake to four litres, or cut the orange juice with pamplemousse liqueur. It would be difficult, but it was possible.

How would we move them? I laid one of the barrels down on its side and tried pushing it along with my curtain rod, which I was using as a replacement for my lame left leg. The barrel rolled forward a bit, sloshed noisily, and then rolled back. I tried to pick up the barrel with my free hand, but it was too heavy and the curved slats slipped out of my grip. I attempted to kick the barrel with my good leg. The blow gave a satisfying knock, and the barrel moved forward a metre or so before crashing into a wooden crate full of lemons. Lemons. I called my eldest nephew down to try one. I poked a hole in the peel and had him suck out the juice. His eyes grew wide. The acidic juice returned, and dripped down onto the barrel. At least we had the orange juice.