Have you ever tasted freshly-squeezed orange juice? Pure, liquid, deliciousness. Tangy, sweet, tart, and cool. I was never a huge fan of OJ growing up; maybe it’s because I had never had it freshly squeezed. You go to the store, you select “pulp”, “some pulp”, “no pulp”. You bring it home, shake it up and drink it down. Big deal.
But freshly-squeezed orange juice, it’s in a league of it’s own. In December of 2006, my husband and I travelled to Europe for adventure and to visit some of his Italian friends from grad school along the way. I remember one morning, early in our trip, we met his friend for breakfast in his hometown of Bergamo. We had flown from Texas to Milan for a brief visit before heading to Bergamo. Milan was full of the most dense fog I had ever seen. To this day, I have no idea how the drivers there see to drive safely. It was all-encompassing and I imagine after a while it would get very old and feel oppressive. I find fog fascinating (probably because it is a more rare occurrence here) and felt as if I were in a dream, although jet lag may have had something to do with it.
Back to Bergamo. A day or two into the trip, we headed to a cafe in Bergamo for breakfast. It was a chilly day that was crisp but clear. Full of sunshine and the promise of exploration. We drove through the sleepy little town to the center. While it was relatively quiet outside, inside the cafe was bustling with the buzz of caffeine. My husband and Luca ordered two espressos as I debated what to get. Not being a coffee drinker, in a country full of cafes and espresso fanatics, I wanted to pick something more special than just water. Through the flurry of activity, I noticed a large machine – a big clear box surrounding a tangerine orange and silver apparatus. Baristas would throw oranges into the machine and orange juice would pour out. (Here’s an example of one similar to the one I saw ) I have to admit, the machine really sucked me into ordering the orange juice.
Prior to that day, I cannot recall ever having a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice. Although I’m sure my breakfast was delicious, all I remember is the orange juice. And despite the Italian pizza and gelato, Swiss chocolate, and French delicacies, the overriding food memory that stands out is of the Italian freshly-squeezed orange juice (which I had at every other cafe that served it). Something so simple, yet so amazingly delicious.
After we returned from the trip, I could not stop obsessing over freshly-squeezed orange juice. I promptly went to the store and bought a simple electric juicer. I usually don’t need to squeeze a ton of orange juice at a time and I’ve found that the best juicer is a cheap, simple juicer, like this one (no affiliation or perks, just trying to show an example). I’ve also had fun playing with mixtures of OJ and pomegranate juice, or adding frozen cranberries as ice cubes. The juice of just one orange can also really perk up a smoothie. More on that here.
So I hope my tale will encourage you to (1) try freshly-squeezed orange juice; (2) travel to new places and try new things; and (3) appreciate the simple and simply delicious things in life.
Have any delectable food memories to share?
Did you know that before the mid-nineteenth century few Americans drank orange juice due to lack of availability and high prices? Thanks to the transcontinental railroad, 1920s science on Vitamin C, and advertising campaigns by orange growers, orange juice sales skyrocketed. This was especially so after the advent of frozen orange juice and freezers. Fresh-squeezed orange juice remained a luxury through the early twentieth century. By 2003, Americans drank on average 4.7 gallons of orange juice. (Source - The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink)
More food memories: