d o c t o r a n d m a m a

Linda Shiue

Linda Shiue
San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA
December 31
I am a physician and spend my free time with my husband and kids, reading everything in sight, eating, traveling, and cooking meals inspired by my travels. These days I'm spending more time at my food blog, spiceboxtravels.com. Please visit me there and follow me on Twitter @spiceboxtravels. Disclaimer: Health information presented here is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your own physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any medical questions or conditions. © 2010-12 Linda Shiue. All Rights Reserved.

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Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 20, 2011 10:43AM

Californian Meyer Lemon and Thyme Caipirinha

Rate: 17 Flag
lemon by Linda Shiue
There's a charming and charismatic Bread Man at our local farmers market whose stall was our first stop every Saturday.  Besides selling a wide variety of delicious bread, he'd also always offer a smile and treats for our kids.  "Your daughters are beautiful," he'd say as he handed us some complimentary sweet rolls and sometimes a few toys.  We reciprocated with our loyalty, and one day my husband wanted to give him a small gift.

We'd discovered a teeny Brazilian mart nearby, where you could buy itsy bitsy bikinis, Brazilian flags, pao de queijo and discount air tickets to Rio.  They also sold the earthy Brazilian equivalent of Folgers, Pilao coffee.  We were hooked on its assertive flavor.  On his most recent visit, my husband picked up an extra bag of Pilao for the Bread Man, whom he was sure would be surprised and happy to see a familiar taste of home.

Instead, the Bread Man's usual sunshiney smile turned into near-rage.  "I am not your typical Brazilian.  I do not drink coffee.  I do not play football.  I do not listen to samba.  My favorite food is sushi."

After that unintended insult, things were never the same.  The Bread Man would skip over us for the next person in line, and needless to say, gone was the friendly banter and sweet rolls offered gratis.

I wonder how he would have reacted if we had instead offered him a caipirinha, Brazil's national cocktail.  The caipirinha is made with cachaça, which is distilled from the fermented juice of sugar cane, and in its homeland is consumed in the amount of 53 million gallons yearly.  To make a caipirinha, cachaça is stirred with the juice of limes muddled with sugar to make a refreshing drink.  
For the Bread Man, whom we didn't mean to offend or stereotype, I've reinterpreted the classic lime-based recipe.  In this version, I've substituted sunny California Meyer lemons, accented with thyme.
*     *    *
More Californian than Brazilian
Meyer Lemon and Thyme Caipirinha
Meyer lemon caipirinha by Linda Shiue
This is a sunny drink that will bring you out of your winter doldrums and let you imagine that you are basking in the sun in Rio.  The thyme adds an herbal zing.  For the best flavor, roll the whole lemon on the counter before cutting to maximize the amount of juice and to release its aromatic oils.  (Bonus feature: the colors of this drink match the Brazilian flag.)
Makes: 1 serving
1 Meyer lemon, cut into small wedges
2 fresh thyme sprigs, plus extra for garnish
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated white sugar
1 1/2 oz cachaça
crushed ice 

1.  Remove leaves from 2 thyme sprigs (done easily by running the sprig through the tines of a fork).
2.  Muddle the thyme leaves, lemon wedges and sugar together in a glass.
3.  Add cachaça and stir.
4.  Cover with an equal amount of crushed ice to fill the glass. 
5.  Garnish with a thyme spring and lemon wedge.

1. The classic caipirinha- use 1 lime instead of lemon.
2. Caipiroska- as above, but with vodka instead of cachaça.
3. Caipirissima- as above, but with rum instead of cachaça.
Meyer lemon caipirinha by Linda Shiue 

© 2011 Linda Shiue

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Just checking in to see what marvels you've concocted this week: your posts are always fun -- accounting for all tastes! (And based on last week's foray into citrus -- I actually located Meyer lemons way out here in Michigan.

Too bad for the Bread Man -- he doesn't know the delight in your written words, nor what he's missing in your gifts and good wishes.
You've made your BreadMan happy. Along with the rest of us lemony drinkers. Lemon on or with anything is blessed.
This sounds so refreshing. Thank you -R-
This sounds sooo delicious, Linda...lemon & thyme, yum! Too bad he couldn't take your kind & friendly gesture as being just that... :)
I love caipirinhas, and this sounds wonderful!
What a shame that he wasn't able to see your gesture as generous and well-meaning. It makes you wonder what else is going on in his life, and what has happened to him in the past to make him so defensive.

The drink does look refreshing. It's hard to imagine anyone sneering at that!
Your story reminded me of a Seinfeld episode, The Soup Nazi, a little. The breadman's attitude change and skipping to the next customer after you. . . But I like the moral in your story.
What a terrific recipe--the thyme is definitely a nice and distinctive touch. So sorry about the bread guy--I'm guessing he must have had a bad experience being stereotyped as a typical Brazilian, whatever that may be (the country is so big and diverse I wonder if there is such as creature!). I hope he comes around and forgives you--he won't regret it.
The Bread Man may still want sake, but this is inspired!
Gee, you try and do something nice for someone...
Love this cocktail - bonne chance!
Thank you for telling the story and giving us this great recipe. It makes me feel better that I'm not the only one who's experienced these cultural misunderstandings. And I'm always looking for new ways to use thyme. It's funny that FusunA brings up Seinfeld: I was thinking of Seinfeld too, but a different episode, the one in which Jerry was trying to find a particular Chinese restaurant, and so he asks a postman delivering mail in the neighborhood. The postman, who happens to be Chinese, throws a fit while Jerry tries to explain that he was asking him because he's familiar with the neighborhood; not because he's Chinese. I guess we've all been there...
No good deed goes unpunished... I hope you found a new Bread Man. Your drink looks so refreshing, me being the sucker for Meyer lemons and all. I think the thyme is a wonderful addition!
I can identify. Once I started a conversation with an overseas operator in Germany by asking if he spoke English to let him know that I did. You'd have thought I'd accused him of rape, pillage and an IQ of 30. Love the thyme. :) Rated
Bring the Bread Man sushi.
You are amazing! I'd be a big fan should you have a TV show!
Wow. I tasted my first Caiperhina with Meyer lemons about 6 years ago and it was the absolute best. Great place in Venice, Ca. called "Joes." After that I started carrying Meyer lemons in my car and have the bartenders at my favorite establishments use them instead of limes. Nothing like it. Best ever. Thanks for the memories :)
He doesn't know what he's missing. Thyme and lemon in a Caipirinha; nothing cliché about that!
That sounds absolutely delicious. I will try out this recipe this weekend.