When Life Gives You Lemons
One night last week my mom posted on Facebook that she and my dad were cozily waiting out the blizzard that was blowing through Manitoba. I woke the next morning imagining snow on the ground. I looked out the window at lush palm trees with a bright blue backdrop and felt lost. I plastered a smile on my face and went upstairs to get my toddler ready for the day. I asked, “What do you want to do today?” He said, “Go to the park, Mommy!” And why not? It is *sigh* 82 degrees out there after all.
Swings, slides, sand (lots of digging) and a couple of hours later, J and I were walking home from the park singing our ABCs. From behind a hedge I heard, “Who’s doing such nice singing?” J pointed and shouted (very very loudly), “Wook Mommy! A wady!” There was a woman in her yard gardening. She chuckled, “A boy with such a nice voice deserves an orange. Come around back and I’ll give you one.” J ran to her and began happily plucking oranges from her tree (never mind that we have about a million on our own trees at home). She then asked J, “Do you like lemonade?” He nodded his head vigorously. “If I give your Mommy some lemons, will she make you some?” We both nodded our heads vigorously.
As we watched her picking round bumpy lemons from her tree I thought, “I wish we had a lemon tree…oh wait, we do have one…but its lemons are small and seedy and taste bitter and …OH MY GOD…they definitely don’t smell like this…would it be weird to bite through the peel and eat the whole thing here in her yard? What if I just stand here holding it up to my nose while breathing deeply?”
After many thank yous we headed home for lunch. Once there J insisted that he didn’t want any lemonade. After all, if life gives you oranges shouldn’t your mom make you orange juice? (How he’s not sick of the stuff by now, I don’t understand). I, on the other hand, had been given lemons and when life gives me lemons I make Citron Pressé.
We drank our citrus beverages with our PB&J sandwiches. I imagined myself away to a café in Paris. J imagined himself to a construction site where his hand was the scoop on a digger truck sent to pick up pieces of sandwich and deliver them to the floor. I don’t know why we were both intent on being away from the present moment. Really, how much better could it be than to live in a place where life hands you lemons and you get to make (and drink) lemonade (or citron pressé or orange juice)? Maybe a place that hands you lemons is as good as one that covers you in snow. Maybe.
Citron Pressé means “squeezed lemon” and is really just deconstructed lemonade. I prefer it to lemonade because each person is able to adjust the sweetness and tartness to their own taste (I make mine really really sour). This is possible because each component is served separately. Another advantage of citron pressé is that you can easily make a single glass of it for yourself without having to mix up a whole jug (obviously, if it was just you making a glass for yourself you wouldn’t have to serve it this prettily. I did this for photographic reasons. Although, it was a treat to put the camera down, sit, mix, sip and imagine, for an all-too-brief moment, that I was in Paris. Regardless, I would normally just squeeze lemon juice into a glass, add some ice cubes, squirt in some sweetener* and top off with water).
Squeeze the juice from 4 lemons (strain to remove seeds if necessary). Place juice into a small pitcher or bowl.
Slice another lemon (or an orange or a lime) thinly and place in a small bowl.
Fill a pitcher with ice and then top it off with cold water (you can use sparkling or plain tap water).
Put 3 or 4 ice cubes into each of 4 drinking glasses. Place a spoon in each glass.
Take the juice, the lemon slices, the pitcher of ice water and the drinking glasses to the table along with some Agave Nectar**. 3/4 of a cup should be plenty unless somebody has a real sweet tooth. You can leave the nectar in its squeeze bottle or pour it into a little pitcher or into a bowl. Everybody makes their own drink, adding juice, water, lemon slices or nectar until it tastes right to them. I usually start with a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice, one tablespoon of syrup, water 3/4 of the way up the glass, stir, sip, probably more lemon juice. “Ahhhhhh! So good.”
*Citron Pressé was my favorite drink at the Café Rouge in England where I waited tables for a summer in my twenties. We servers made simple syrup for customers to use as a sweetener for their drink. However, I’ve ordered Citron Pressé in France and have been given sugar packets instead of syrup. At home I use Agave Nectar because it dissolves in cold water better than sugar and doesn’t require that I make simple syrup (it’s not like it’s hard to do but taking the bottle of agave out of the cupboard is way easier) nor does it require that I buy simple syrup (I hate paying for a bottle of sugar water that I could easily make for myself…ummmm… if I could be bothered).
**You can find Agave Nectar at most regular grocery stores. It’s sometimes in the organic section and sometimes in the syrup section.