So there I was at a local taquería, ready to chow down on four tacos al pastor, when I noticed something was missing: a lime wedge.
As I wrote last week, the wholesale price of a 40-pound case of limes from Mexico–where the vast majority of limes bought in the U.S. are grown–is reaching unprecedented levels due to chaos south of the border caused by the drug wars (although the Mexican government is putting the blame on a plague). When I wrote the post, a case cost $90; on Saturday, a local restauranteur tweeted a photo of a case costing $105. I warned in my post that customers would be feeling the pinch soon, as limes help Mexican food reach its heights from the taco to guacamole to ceviches and more.
Back to the missing lime wedge. I asked the taquero what was going on, and he said he'd give me one–but he'd have to charge me extra.
The price wasn't TOO exorbitant–a dime–but it got me to do an informal survey of tacos in SanTana. Of the 5 places I visited, none had yet begun to charge–but they were only giving out lime wedges upon request.
"The price for limes is just too much right now," said one restauranteur, who requested anonymity. "I feel bad not giving something we've always given out for free–but all those limones start affecting your bottom line after a while."
Customers so far have been understanding, since the price of limes is also affecting Mexican households. Prices aren't expected to drop for a while, unfortunately. "We're all chingados together," another taquero said with a bitter laugh.
Moral of the story? Start growing limes in your backyard–and erect barbed wire around it lest hordes of Mexicans start invading your house next year, desperate for a squeeze of that sweet, sweet lime…