It’s not just for the birds

LimeLiming has many definitions: “liming the soil” or “liming the lawn” – applying lime (calcium hyrdroxide) to acidic soils to raise the pH, soaking hides for the production of parchment or to remove the hair before tanning, using birdlime (a sticky, plant-based substance) to catch birds and most appropriate for our purposes, a Caribbean expression for hanging out.

In the 18th century, liming came about as a term for relaxing in the islands with friends at the end of the day, sharing stories and drinking rum.  In terms of etymology, was it the British soldiers (limeys) in the colonized Caribbean or the fact that rum is really tasty with lime?  It was a practice of the Royal and Merchant Navies of Britain to supply their sailors with lime juice (limes were more prevalent than lemons) to prevent scurvy. James Lind, a surgeon and pioneer of naval hygiene, was responsible for determining the link between citrus fruits and scurvy.  He was inspired to conduct one of the world’s first clinical trials after noticing that Dutch sailors who ate cabbage had little problems with scurvy.

Can you imagine how it smelled below decks on those Dutch ships?

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