Bergamot. What is it? A flavoring, a tea, a perfume. Many people aren’t quite sure. You will love it if you:
- Creak your neck to get a good whiff of the first magnolia blossoms at the end of winter.
- Welcome gleefully any oriental pastry flavored with orange blossom water.
- Love jasmine, and lemons, and lavender flavored soaps.
- Drink Earl Grey tea (that implacable citrus flavoring is indeed bergamot.)
What is it, really? It’s a small, oblong-shaped lemon. It has a funny little nose on one end – the end where it was connected to the tree- and a flatter, rounder surface on the other end.
It is usually more golden in color than a regular lemon. Golden like the color of the sunshine in a Saturday morning cartoon. Golden like the top of a corn bread fresh from the oven.
The true magic of the bergamot is its zest. It has a powerful, perfumed flavor that is unlike anything else (I’ve tasted). The zest can be used to decorate, and delight, anything from a steam-cooked piece of white fish, to an endive salad, to a cup of yogurt with honey. The juice is a bit harder to put into practice, but I find it best in bergamot curd (along with more zest), which I’ve been making by the jarful and dousing onto brioche like there’s no tomorrow (check Riverford Farms for a great, easy, recipe.) David Lebovitz also dissects what bergamots actually are, as the names can vary from country to country.
This pie has been a dream of mine all winter long as I’ve devoured different ways to incorporate bergamot into desserts. In order to concoct it, I used some basic lemon-meringue-pie-principles gleaned from BBC Good Food, Martha Stewart, and Epicurious. I hope you’ll enjoy.
Bergamot-Lavender Meringue Pie Continue reading