I Drank the Kool-Aid, and It Was Juice

Skip this if you already know [about juice].

February 22, 0001 AJ: I was visiting San Francisco, staying with the excellent Wirecutter editor Brian Lam, and I wanted a coffee. So Brian suggested we go to his favorite cafe, which was also conveniently “near [his] juice place,” where he needed to pick something up, although the juice-place part barely registered at the time. (I like to point out “my cobbler” to friends, too, for instance, but no one ever seems to care. “Oh you got your shoes fixed? Tell me more” <— words no one has ever said.)

So I got my coffee at the cafe and wandered around outside while Brian went to the juice place for what I would later learn was a “Garden Fire” blend. At the time I was skeptical/mildly disdainful of juice (juice, I’m sorry), because why not just eat your vegetables normally? Also fiber, etc. But then Brian offered me some of this Garden Fire.

“Want some?”: the two most important words spoken in my life so far, no joke. (Well, a joke. But I’m living AJ now, After Juice, and that is not a joke.)

“Sure.”

It cost $9 for this drink — nine dollars for a juice! a price I would once have laughed at but now consider a bargain (some inner, former self is struggling to slap my hands away from the keyboard after typing that, but she’ll soon be merely a forgotten drift of juice-foam) considering how much I spend at bars — and to be ridiculous but not entirely dishonest, everything changed when it hit my lips. I know! I know. Or, maybe I don’t know.

But the juice tasted like something else. Food but not-food. Like if you stuck spigots into Pandora (Avatar reference) the same way you stick spigots into maple trees to get syrup, it would taste like that. Alive. (Fairy blood? Tired fairies being milked like cows inside that huge steel juicer?) And this was just after one sip.

“Whoa,” I said. “That’s amazing.” And it was amazing. It was spicy and clear and fresh and bright and delicious without being a delicious I’d been familiar with. It was the craziest drink of my life, except for all the varieties of alcohol I’ve ever consumed. “What’s in this?!” I said, expecting Brian to say something along the lines of “no one knows, it just rains down every leap year in the Garden of Eden,” but then he said, “kale, wheatgrass, lemon, cayenne powder, celery, bee pollen, and apple cider vinegar,” and I was like, “oh, yeah, it does taste lemony and cayenne-y.”

And I’m not sure how best to describe this, or whether to include it at all, but the juice made me feel high. “Sometimes I feel buzzed when I drink it first thing in the morning,” Brian said as we drove back. I thought “okay Brian,” but then when we got home, I did feel buzzed. But not sloppy. The inside of my head felt bright, thoughts piling on top of one another to get out — but in a happy way, not a panic-stampede way. “Are there drugs in that juice!?” I Gchatted him, but he was “Away.” (We were on different floors.)

February 23, 0001 AJ: So, that was day one. Day two I got another juice, and it was pretty good. Not quite the gripping-the-third-rail experience of day one, but — the juice is good. It’s weird and wonderful. We asked the woman at the register why drinking it makes you feel like you’re on drugs, and she didn’t know. (“Because of the nutrients?” she offered, and we were like “…yeah?”) But then this older juice bar patron (OJBP) suggested that the point on the stalk where the wheatgrass is cut down — near the bottom — is where it’s “growing the hardest,” and so drinking what comes from there can be unusually powerful. Which is more than a little New Age-y, but also added a strangely appealing micro-brutality to the whole process. Ruthless wheatgrass slaughter. Feeding from the wheatgrass jugular.

I didn’t have any coffee, though, and never quite felt awake. Juice: not coffee. Yet.

February 26, 0001 AJ: IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN! Back in Brooklyn, found a juice place at the back of the health foods store, my hands can’t move fast enough to type this, I feel high. Is it the cayenne? The wheatgrass? The LIFE? Life in a cup. (Is it the coffee that I drank before the juice?) I feel GREAT. Juice! Juice! Juice! Juice!

February 27, 0001 AJ: I had some gross juice at a different, lazy juice place near my house. Never again. I think the juice was pre-juiced? But because it was bad, and I still wanted cayenne and apple cider vinegar, I added them to a glass of white wine, ice, and seltzer at home. It wasn’t even that bad. It was actually kind of good. I don’t care. I maybe should, though.

February 29, 0001 AJ: Some button and bumper sticker ideas: “Ask me about juice” and “I’d rather be juicing.”

March 6, 0001 AJ: Juice-thusiasm continues apace! Haha. Well, actually there have been some mishaps, but they’re so far from being interesting that … they boomerang back around to being interesting again! Just kidding, they are very boring. One involved a BEET MISTAKE and another involved A DIFFICULT-TO-READ SIGN.

Yesterday at the back of the health foods store, though, while I was waiting for my juice (one downside to juice [a juicance?] is all the standing around), this hip Brooklyn dude smiled at the juice guy and ordered “your extra-special dark green juice.” The juice guy smiled back (he’s never smiled at me), and started working. What?! You guys!

March 31, 0001 AJ: I love juice. I’m mostly happy buying it from the (comically endless) juice places around me (I found another one! it’s great!), although I’ve yet to recapture the feeling of that first time in San Francisco. And I’m not yet sure if I want to buy a juicer, go on a juice fast, or talk to juice experts, but fortunately Brian has been doing all of that, for months, and has written a thorough and entertaining guide that just went live. Brian, over to you. And thank you for showing me the way.

(No one is paying me to say any of this.)

(What this means for “juicebox,” the slang that originated here-ish and has spread like the wildest of fires across North America and all six other continents, remains to be seen.)

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