The Memory of Lemon by Judith Fertig is filled with vivid descriptions of tempting bakery treats. Each month, Neely’s bakery, Rainbow Cakes, features unique flavor profiles. Like lime bars with coconut crust and lime custard filling in April. Strawberry-Rhubarb hand pies in May. Apricot cakes and lavender cookies in June. But, throughout the novel, lemon is the one flavor she keeps returning to. Lemon is a flavor that evokes memories of her childhood and her family, and although neither were perfect, it’s a flavor that helps her heal as she confronts these memories.
Perhaps more importantly, she uses the flavor of lemon to reconnect with her estranged father. His struggle with PTSD following the Vietnam war along with his alcoholism made him feel his family would be better off without him. At the start of the novel, when his first letter arrives, Neely is reluctant to respond to the father that walked out her family. Throughout the course of the novel, she works through the anger she feels towards her father, and eventually she starts sending him care packages of lemon cookies in hopes that the memory of lemon will help him heal too.
Now, I am not a fan of lemon flavored sweets, yet I found myself dreaming up a list of desserts to whip up after reading this novel. Eventually, I settled on a simple lemon loaf cake drizzled with lemon scented honey. The flavor was buttery sweet and zesty lemon, which is exactly what I had hoped for. My only regret is polishing off the last of the Lemon Soleil Tea from Adagio Teas prior to this baking excursion.
Are there any flavors that evoke memories of your childhood or your family? (Mine would probably be my dad’s angel hair pasta, my mom’s sugar cookies, and banana pudding).