Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"...you ain't juicy!"

The title comes from a Jeff Foxworthy skit in the series "You know you're a redneck when...." What, my international readers may ask, is a redneck? Hard to say, actually--it's more of a mentality. Sort of the way being Dutch is, except without the culture, the history, the engineering know-how, penchant for cleanliness, and prudence of almost 500 years of Reformed Church-ness. Offhand, I'd say anybody who likes barbecued opossum is a redneck, but that would be insulting the indignous tribes in weird countries that actually eat those funny animals.

I've never been much of a juice drinker--I like coffee in the mornings, tea in the afternoons, and a cold white with dinner (assuming, that is, we're eating something that should be accompanied by white wine). Occasionally I have a jones for Diet Coke, but basically I'm just not a fan of sugary drinks. I do buy lots of fruit drinks, though, because Karel likes them. But even most juices contain more sugar than I like, which is why it took me so long to realize that there is a difference, between fruit juices and fruit drinks:

In short, fruit juices are found in the produce section of supermarkets, while fruit drinks are found in the aisles next to or around the soda/wine. Even though both are nominally chock full of vitamins (nuts? only smoothies), a juice typically denotes something fresh-squeezed and threatening to go south if not consumed immediately. Next to the juices, you'll also find what Europeans call "smoothies". I'll grant you that they're better than that soured-yogurt concoction the barista at the Selexyz tried to serve me, but I also believe that the whole point of imbibing a liquid is to get more of the liquid inside you than is stuck to the sides of the flask.

A fruit drink, on the other hand, can be bought in large quantities with impunity, and stored away in your pantry for weeks--months, even. They sit in their TetraPak cartons and wait until Karel puts one in the fridge--two if we're having guests. I buy them whenever they go on sale, but they are a pain in the @$$ to lug home.

Fruit drinks, in turn, are a derivative of syrup mixes that used to be popular back in the day, when Karel was a little kid--thick fruit syrups (or thin jellies) that came in huge jars, and you'd add a spoonful to a glass and then add water to it. These are easier to carry, which explaines their popularity in families of Karel's generation. This, in essence, was the equivalent of Kool-Aid to kids--it remains debateable whether Roos Vicee is really as healthy as it says it is, but at least they didn't have a creepy pitcher mascot. These syrups are still sold, but given the popularity of the boxed drinks, it seems as though the trouble of adding water is a bit much.

Something that I do like, though, is mixing the syrup with carbonated water, which is also sold in supermarkets. These delightful bubbly mixes make the most amazing sodas, and even better is that you can adjust the water:syrup ratio to your own sweet tooth.

I actually like the distinction--you don't get any confusion as to which one is healthy and which one is not. Of course, we also don't have that many choices--orange juice is either pulpy or not, there's no added-calcium-vitamin-D-fortified confusion to add to your choice of juice. Or drink.

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