Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Juicy Juice

I have had little truly notable cuisine lately. A chunk of of tough and spongy New York Strip here, a lusciously crisp and oily funnel cake there. I am spending a chunk of the summer outside of Washington, D.C with my fiance.

DC is a city about whose gastronomic prospects I am sort of vague. I have gleaned one or two impressions, but I suspect that in these food-trend-heavy times they are probably outdated. I envision the typical DC eatery as an obscurely located, richly-appointed, dark wood-paneled, ostentatious pastoral English countryside painting-filled, boys' clubhouse (No Girls Allowed!) where "Beltway insiders" like Henry Kissinger and other such corpulent grubs plot policy over double martinis and steaks. As far as I know this is still quite the thing; however, there is also a pretty good collection of ethnic restaurants, especially in the outlying suburbs, where there are plenty of Chinese and Vietnamese folks. In the city there seems to be an ever-increasing melange of New American/organic/locally-sourced/hip n'trendy places in town.

Well, I guess. I don't really know. I am not going to any of them at the moment. No longer dining on arugula, I am instead sending its tender little leaves to a grisly death. Vampirically I drink of its life-giving fluids, flushing the pulpy evidence of my crime down the disposal. So far numerous plump and ripened vegetables have died at my hands, their bodies crushed to withered fragments in the growling jaws of a Breville Elite Juice Fountain Plus. Yes, I have taken up Juicing!

It's a lot of fun, really, although I see why a lot of people can't be bothered with it. Why buy all those fabulous, lovely vegetables and fruits only to shove them into a juicer instead of cooking them up in numerous delectable ways? Most of the juicing books and websited I've looked at give delicious sounding recipes for fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies, but when said produce is 5.99 a pound (organic, natch) you feel sort of like an ass shoving the sun-ripened raspberries and local blueberries in a juicer instead of just PUTTING THEM IN YOUR MOUTH AND EATING THEM, FOR GOD'S SAKE. WHAT A CONCEPT.

Why am I doing it, then? Well, it IS a great way to quickly get in a pound's worth of produce into yourself when you're in a rush. If The Government says we have to have our "five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables a day," juicing is a GOOD way to do it (although you are missing out on the fiber there, so you have to get a bunch of that in or else you'll get constipated and your arteries will get clogged up and a miserable death will surely ensue.)

When last in China I was much inspired by a yoga-teaching, meditation-retreat taking, fabulously well-muscled and toned friend of my fiance's who, while we were shoveling in our daily glut of oily, fatty pork, would regale us with the wonders of juice fasting, in which you drink nothing but the stuff, made from kale, lettuce or other such rabbity roughage, for anywhere from a few days to a few months. "Juice detoxing releases more than just internal toxins from the body," he would say sagely, contemplating a piece of Sichuan-style smoked bacon. "You'd be surprised at the emotional issues that come up."

Eager to witness the dark night of our souls, Fiance and I were keen to try it. That was two months ago. So far we have bought the juicer and a book of juicing recipes. I have juiced various and sundry combinations of beets, carrots, celery, lettuce, tomatoes, apples, peppers of various colors, cucumbers and spinach. The taste? Wonderful--if you like raw produce, of course. Lettuce juice tastes of lovely green lettuce. No problem. Likewise with beets and tomatoes. It gets problematic when you try to juice things like kale, collards or dandelion greens, all of which have a certain amount of bitterness and are rarely eaten raw, but are extremely nutrient-dense and very good for you. Naturally, it's these leafy greens that you're supposed to do the juice detoxing with, not the yummy tasting stuff.

Despite visions of Self-Actualized Enlightened Juice Fasted Rachel dancing in my head I'm still resisting this whole NOT EATING part. I could do it for a weekend with company, three days tops, but longer than that and I would probably expire. Yes, on the fourth day you would find me writhing on the floor, a pale celery green, antioxidant-rich fluids oozing from every orifice. But three days of kale juice? Would be an interesting experiment to try this month, just to see whether any toxins come out of any orifices. Or maybe to see if I can divine the shape of the universe or something. Until then, I'll continue pulverizing hapless tomatoes--homemade 'V8' is amazing.

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