Fresh Squeezed

Dearest Rachel –

While we were at the folks’ place for dinner on Thursday, I mentioned about how I needed to do some grocery shopping on our way home (granted, Meijer isn’t exactly ‘on our way,’ but we would be out and about, so it seemed like something worth taking care of before we got home and settled in for the night). Among other things, I said that I needed to get a box or two of baking soda, as the garbage disposal was starting to smell a bit unpleasant. Mom suggested that I get a lemon instead, cut it up into small pieces, dump it down the drain, let it sit there overnight… and in the morning, run the grinder and send it down as a chaser to everything else that I’ve sent down since the kitchen was re-opened for business.

It wasn’t a perfect job (if nothing else, I was worried about waking Daniel up in the process of running the darn thing), but I could certainly smell the lemon once it was ground up as opposed to all the rest of the stuff that had been sent down there previously. There’s nothing like fresh-squeezed fruit at a time like this for a job like that.

***

We’ve long had a thing for fresh-squeezed over the standard commercially available stuff. I’m pretty sure that it was when we were cruising with Ellen on the Liberty of the Seas that we first saw this monstrosity of a juicer that wouldn’t have looked out of place among the mechanical music machines at the House on the Rock:

This isn’t exactly the same as the one I remember; I want to say that the inner workings were metal rather than plastic, but it’s been fifteen years since that trip, so technology may have changed in that amount of time. But it’s certainly similar in size, with dozens of oranges waiting to be squashed into juice.

Ellen has reminded me that we sprang for a glass of the stuff at the time – not entirely intentionally, we were offered a glass, and after accepting it, were told it would be a certain charge, which was a bit of a shock when we thought we were on an all-inclusive trip – but we could taste the difference between it and the reconstituted commercial stuff (which, regardless of whether it’s from concentrate or not, is still chemically revived; long-term storage requires keeping the stuff in a virtually oxygen-free environment, which, while maintaining it for an extended length of time, basically removes any flavor from it. What the consumer is actually tasting are the effects of chemically-concocted ‘flavor packets’ that are added in when it’s packaged for shipment and sale) that we tended to refer to as ‘zombie orange juice’ thereafter.

Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing harmful about the flavor packet, and the juice still has most, if not all, of the same nutrients as fresh-squeezed. It’s just that… you really can taste the difference when you get the chance to compare.

But fresh-squeezed wasn’t always available, and even once we found a store that offered it on a fairly regular basis (fresh-squeezed grapefruit, by contrast, was and still is rather hit-or-miss with regard to availability), it was considerably more expensive than the commercial stuff. So, while I tended to stop by Mariano’s on my way to or from the ‘office,’ it was mostly something I did on infrequent occasions, and kept to myself, thinking you might not approve of the extravagance. That, and it always seemed like neither you nor Daniel woke up in time to really ‘do’ breakfast – for what it’s worth, honey, he still doesn’t.

These days, however, it’s a regular fixture in the new kitchen; I mean, compared to what was spent on the upgrades, it would take a lifetime before the difference in cost between juices would equal that.

***

And then, there’s the memory of pomegranate juice. That was something that wasn’t even on our radar when we were young and just getting started together. And while we might have been able to find some of it in the various ethnic grocery stores in our neighborhood, it’s not the sort of thing that would come to mind to acquire from our own experience.

But you’ll remember our second trip to Israel, and our visit to Cana. While we didn’t manage to actually visit the church that had been built there to commemorate Jesus’ first miracle, we – along with the folks, and a dozen other couples – had the opportunity to renew our vows out in the walled street nearby. Afterwards, on our way back to the coach, you’ll recall the little stall that we encountered, selling freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice. I don’t think we were the first ones – or maybe we were; I know you indicated a curiosity to try it – but we were certainly among the first to buy ourselves a glass.

And oh, was it good! Sweet, juicy, refreshing… it was just what we were needing at the time. Now, it could well have been a case of being what economists referred to as a ‘place utility’; where something is available at just the right place and time to make it that much better and more valuable to the consumer.

But I don’t think it was just that. After having tried it over there, I found a syrup that we mixed with our seltzer dispenser, and found that pomegranate soda was every bit as tasty back here in the States – although it may well be the sweeteners included in the syrup that made it so. We’d gone through a bottle – and I have its replacement even today – prior to the accident.

Oddly enough, though, just a few weeks ago, I was going through one of those ethnic grocery stores, for… reasons. I found a bottle of pomegranate juice, and bought it and brought it home. It was nothing like what I remember from Cana. Yes, there was some sweetness in it, but also, a fair amount of sour, and just a hint of bitterness as well. There was something familiar about it, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Worst yet, there was nothing particularly refreshing about it; you couldn’t just drink it, you had to sip it, slowly, like an adult beverage. I might be able to tell you what it tasted like, but my memory isn’t that good. For all I know, the time since I last had it may have altered what I remember. If Megumi ever shows up, and we end up together, I may be able to confirm my suspicions, but I’ll say no more on the subject.

Suffice to say, no matter the fruit, there’s nothing like freshly squeezed, is there?

I’ll catch you up later, honey. Until then, keep an eye on us, and wish his luck – we’re going to need it.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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