The Great Lemon.
Two months have passed already since the royal wedding, and I can still feel submerged in the idea of wanting to make the world a better place. It tells you a lot about how much we have evolved in the past years as citizens of the world. Even though I've honestly never been into the Royals, I did watch it and got moved by the beauty of this outstanding love statement. I've always admired strong women like my mother. Another good example is my mother in law, who happens to be crazy about Lady Di. Diana is to this day, like to many other women around the world, her source of personal inspiration. I remember the day we were introduced, she received me with a big, thick book about Diana's life. We went through it, page by page, patiently, while my mother in law explained to me every little detail that made her such a unique person to have ever existed. I'll always be thankful for her legacy.
I must say, though, I personally feel a lot of respect for the Queen Elizabeth II of England. I can only imagine how hard must have been to assume such a role during paradigm shifting times, where women weren't supposed to play those roles, at all. So, you could understand my surprise when I recently came stumbling (almost by accident) across one of the coolest stories you will ever hear at a party. It started with the fact that Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, came once to La Paz, Baja California Sur, in August of 1983. For those who don't know, La Paz is located on the south side of the Baja Peninsula. For centuries, the Gulf of California was worldwide known to be the only place in the world, where the most beautiful and unique black pearls where found. Cortes the conquistador, himself, gave this sea his own name, and he would personally lead three black pearl expeditions in the area, shipping most of its treasures to Spain, around 1536. Keep in mind, pearls were the most coveted gem in Europe at the time. Between the 1500s and 1800s, the word would spread, and all around the globe, iconic personalities of the time would seek to get a hold of one of Cortes's exotic gems.
Now, back to the first story! As it is documented, the Queen of England sailed from Edinburgh, in her Yacht, The Britannia, and landed in La Paz, in August of 1983. Some believe the reason to be, the 100-Year Commemoration of the discovery of one of the biggest pearls in her Kingdom. After this visit, she would go whale watching in Guerrero Negro, and then continue to her final destination, Northern California. After all, It is well known that Her Majesty the Queen, loves her pearls. So it is not that crazy to think she would want to personally visit the land where some of her favorite gems came from.
Now, How did a Baja Californian giant pearl got its way to one of the UK Royal Crowns, you ask? Well, that's the best part of this story. As I said before, diving for pearls in La Paz used to be a huge business. Back in 1883, two divers working for a commerce man called Don Antonio Ruffo found a white pearl the size of a lemon. Don Antonio Ruffo named the gem Carmelaida, in honor of his two daughters, Carmen and Adelaida Ruffo. For many years, he kept the pearl on display at the local museum. The story has a sad twist, though, since unfortunately, after some years from the finding, both of his daughters died. At some point in time, Don Antonio Ruffo retrieved the pearl and showed it to his close friend, the UK Ambassador, Sir. Anthony Fein, who offered to buy the pearl and gift it to King Edward VII, as a birthday present. But, being a proud Subcalifornian, as he undoubtedly was, Don Antonio Ruffo decided to gift the pearl to King Edward VII himself. They say The King was so pleased, he pushed the pearl into his royal crown. The English Jewelers who work on this named it The Great Lemon. It is the same headgear that years after, the King's granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II, still wears on official occasions.
The Cortes Sea or the World's Aquarium as Jack Cousteau once called it, is the home of 80% marine species around the globe, and a vast ecosystem for all types of mollusks. No wonder why Clams happen to be one of the top dishes served in La Paz. They eat them fresh, grilled and stuffed. I created my version while traveling through this marvelous sea, tasting those flavors and meeting its people!
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