The Cryptic Meaning of Buddha’s Hand


Buddha’s hand is gnarled and ugly, with orange fingers crooking helter skelter in several directions. The smell is almost overpowering. You dizzily try to count the fingers, feeling bewildered and woozy. One, two, three, four, five, six…you snap back into consciousness as you reach 16 fingers…

Citrus medicus, var. sarcodactylus, also known as Buddha’s hand, is a type of citron with virtually no pith; in other words, it’s all skin. In addition to ornamental uses, Buddha’s hand is good in marmalades, in North African tajines, raw in salads, or any use where zest is at the forefront.

Buddha’s hand is also fragrant. It can be hung up as a room deodorizer, or tucked among the underthings to provide a fresh (but obviously citrus-y) smell. Ask your cab driver to replace that stinky cardboard pine tree with a Buddha’s hand. Get them at Manhattan Fruit Exchange, Chelsea Market (Ninth Avenue and 15th Street).