Making the root beer cake launched a lot of conversations in our house about sodas. The husband and I discussed the ones we like (root beer and ginger ale) and those we don't (most others), how the husband's teeth hurt when he thinks about drinking a Coke, and soda brands from our childhoods.
I grew up in California in a household that did not drink a lot of sodas. Yes, there was root beer at A&W, and I remember drinking some orange Fantas over the years. But my strongest memory of soft drinks was when we'd go on camping trips with family friends, who'd always bring a cooler full of Cragmont sodas. I was always thrilled to see that cooler, which I knew to be neatly stocked with shiny cans. Of all the flavors, which included bright pink strawberry and the exotic cream soda, I often chose lemon lime.
The husband didn't have Cragmont in Kentucky, but he did have Chek, which I had never heard of. A quick search on Wikipedia informed me that this too was a cheap brand like Cragmont and boasted the same classic flavors, as well as some suspicious-sounding ones, like Red Alert, Dr. Chek, and my personal favorite, diet Freshy, a Fresca rip-off.
Anyway, after I had a good laugh about Chek, I found myself thinking about lemon lime. Lemon lime is a weird flavor for a kid to pick out, but as I'm sure is evident by now, I was a weird kid. As an adult, I still like lemons and limes together, although I prefer them in their natural forms.
So last night, as I was roasting up a pork loin, I decided to make a potato salad. These two things don't really go together; one is more fall/winter and one is more spring/summer. Pork roasts make me think of root vegetables and bitter autumn greens, while potato salad is warm-weather picnic food. But we had a lot of little Yukon Gold potatoes that needed attention, as well as a bag of limes. I decided to make a tangy vinaigrette using the zest and juice of one lemon and two limes, along with some coarse mustard and olive oil. I poured it over warm potatoes and cold celery, with lots of fresh chives. The result was a light but strongly-flavored potato salad straddling two seasons, a perfect accompaniment to the pork loin rubbed in rosemary.
I'm glad I was reminded about lemons and limes, even if it was through a lengthy analysis of cheap 1970's sodas. It's still a great combination that can lift a ho-hum dish into something both crisp and sunny.