Photo by David Monniaux
…a bit of trivia, a discussion I go through with many cookbook editors as I try to massage our language:
“Kaffir” was, historically, a word used in South Africa to refer to dark-skinned peoples. It differentiated the SE Asian limes grown in Indonesia (where the native Austronesian tribes had dark skin and curly hair) from the juicy and smooth-skinned Persian limes familiar to Europeans.
Word origins: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/kaffir
It’s now considered extremely derogatory, a term that is outlawed, in fact, in several other countries. Users can be prosecuted in court for what we know here as hate speech.
I try to encourage my colleagues and students to use the name “makrut” or “magrut” lime. Obviously, we still have a ways to go, as our whole food industry in the west has absorbed the term without knowing its political background. I often put it in parenthesis, to clarify for readers, but have been working hard to weed it from our cookbooks.
And, as you can tell, continue my Quixotic, linguistic crusade….