Lemon Fever

It’s day 3 of not leaving my apartment. Something about Seoul and my immune system not getting along… it’s the second time since I got here that I’ve been bed-ridden sick. The kind of sick where food tastes bitter and reading makes you dizzy. I’ve had about three spoonfuls of white rice for the past 2 days, and haven’t been doing anything except dozing in and out of consciousness. Today I feel a lot of better, well enough to get out of my bed, but not well enough to go outside. Just as well, because I’ve been told it hasn’t been this cold in Seoul in 38 years.

I’m thinking tomorrow is going to be the day where both my congestion and fever will cease to exist, so I’m preparing in advance for my appetite to come back. And since I can’t go outside for a breath of crispy cold air, I suppose the next best thing is to step into my freezing kitchen (armed with a tuque and scarf). Last weekend, I bought some lemons at the Hyundai Department store. Lemons are outrageously expensive in Korea, and more so at Hyundai. But I found out that if you go at the end of the day, they sell some less than perfectly fresh fruit at half the price. So I got 4 lemons for 4000 won, a little less than $1 each. I know… it’s outrageous, but these were actually on sale! Well, I can’t let any of it go to waste, so I made Nigella Lawson’s Lemon Syrup Loaf Cake. I’ve been making this recipes for years, ever since a very special someone gave me my beloved copy of How to be a Domestic Goddess (I actually had a dream not too long ago about going back to Jeanne Mance to get a few things I wish I had brought with me, and walking to the kitchen bookshelf to look for this).

My lemon zester is one of my most favourite kitchen gadgets, and I probably would have gasped in horror if someone told me I would one day have to make this cake without it. I wasn’t happy about doing this, but I managed with a vegetable peeler, a knife and a chopping board. I also realized that my oven doesn’t bake very evenly, so exactly half is darker than the other. Next time I’ll have to remember to rotate. Finally, it turns out that stainless steel Korean chopsticks aren’t great cake testers. I thought they would be, given that they are thin, long and reusable. I suppose I will simply have to splurge on toothpicks.

It’s a good thing that I have no desire to eat this lovely lemony loaf now, as this is one of those cakes that taste better le lendemain. Now I’m really looking forward to tomorrow!


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