Content warning: this blog may make you hungry...
Many foreigners find it strange that Mexicans add salt and lime to everything.
Yes, when we say ‘everything’, we really mean everything. It’s added to soups, meat, tacos, potato chips, rice, sushi, salads, fruit, beer, tequila, even soda pop and more.
That acidic, pucker-your-face flavor of lime is heaven for us, we simply can’t get enough. Lime is even so important to our cuisine that it’s used in our most iconic dishes. Mexican ceviches, aguachiles and cochinita pibil, are all prepared with lime and sometimes also with orange to add some sweet acidity.
Perhaps our love affair with lime is born from the generous bounty we have of this fruit in our Mexican agriculture. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mexico is the number one country producer of limes worldwide. Two varieties of limes are grown on our land: 70% Mexican and 30% Persian ("seedless"). The seedless variety is almost exclusively used for export.
For Mexicans, the lime has always been an easily accessible citrus and is one of the reasons why we put it on practically everything. Its acidity combines perfectly with our spicy cuisine. Limes are the perfect companion to tacos, soups and many delicacies that we eat in our day to day life.
Of course, if you’ve had Mexican food, you know that lime goes hand in hand with salt. It’s not uncommon to receive a plate with freshly cut limes beside a salt shaker on an authentic Mexican table.
Unusual Uses for Salt and Lime
The use of salt and lime in Mexican culture extends way beyond food.
There are many ways we use these ingredients to help us with our everyday lives. Some are somewhat strange, but nonetheless, are ingrained in Mexican houses and traditions.
Lime for Hair
In the absence of gel or a hairspray, many Mexican moms use lemon to style their girls’ hir. A few drops are enough for a perfectly-styled ponytail.
Lime as a Deodorant
If there’s no deodorant or you are simply looking for a more natural option, rubbing the lime juice applied directly to the skin can work against odors.
Lime is an Antiseptic
Lime has surprising antiseptic effects. Just a few drops can help to prevent wounds from becoming infected. Yes, it burns, but as good Mexicans, we can take the pain!
Salt for keeping Ants Away
If you see a line of salt outside a Mexican door or window, don't be surprised. In Mexico, we use salt to prevent ants from entering our homes.
Sore Throat Relief
Gargling a solution made with salt and warm water (or white vinegar) is also great for soothing a sore throat.
Stain Remover for Wine
Wine spills happen more than we would like to admit, but in Mexico we have the perfect solution to remove them! The trick is to cover the stain with salt immediately after the accident has happened. The salt will absorb the liquid from the fabric on which it has been splashed or spilled, and pull that stain right out.
Learn more about Mexican Traditions: