Summer Lemonade On Bread And Butter
Do you have strong feelings about lemonade and lemonade flavors? The drink, nearly synonymous with summer doesn’t often solicit strong opinions. It’s one thing that appears to be nearly universally loved (or at least universally acknowledged that it is here to stay) and almost always skipped over in any sort of food debate or strong feeling discussion. And I didn’t think I had strong feelings about it, either. It’s always been there. A staple of life and I love it. That should be the end, right? Right. Until …
Our farmer’s market usually has a lemonade booth. It’s become habit to grab one most weeks after I’ve done my shopping. Plain lemonade is always available, but as the harvests roll in, the flavor is dictated, rotating weekly. Strawberry early in the season gives way to raspberry or watermelon, cantaloupe, apricot and mixed berry later on. I know which ones I love and which ones I don’t. I avoid the cantaloupe, always. I grab the watermelon, always, as well as strawberry and the fresh peach. The raspberry or apricot depends on my mood and the day. Those are often weeks I take a miss and save my dollars for the next week. The biggest revelation, however, is the week I tried banana. Glorious banana lemonade.
Our local stand keeps things very minimal. They juice the lemons and sometimes limes right in front of you, pouring the juice into a tumbler. Water goes in next, along with a little sugar and whatever fruit mix is on tap. Ice and a mint leaf complete the recipe and after a little shake and stir, it’s poured into a cup just for you. I choose lid and straw because walking around our crowded market heavy laden with vegetables and meat would simply mark disaster should I have an open cup.
That first sip is always good. The straw digs deep and finds the grain left by the sugar and usually mixes with a little pulp and a little fruit comingling into one perfect sip of lemony goodness. If you get the watermelon version, the water changed to a delicate pink hue, the chunks of melon are always just a little too big for the straw and require adjustment and stirring every time a bit finds it’s way to clogging the bottom of the straw. But instead of being annoying and adverse, it simply stirs things back up and settling into a ‘first sip’ every time. The chunks that are left have soaked up enough lemon liquid that it’s a treat emptying your cup as you wash your week’s groceries.
I had never had banana lemonade until several years ago. I’m trying to remember exactly when and I’m leaning toward about five or so. I spotted the sign declaring the flavor and decided, early, to stick with a cup full of regular that week. Banana flavored anything isn’t my favorite and, to be honest, bananas themselves are something to eat only when desirable things are gone or the banana is crisp and yellow-green, nary a brown spot to be seen.
As the line moved forward, I either had a skeptical look on my face or it was a rote question by that hour for them because I was met with a simple, “I promise. It’s really good.” Not being one easily swayed, I’m not sure what convinced me, but as I walked toward my car, I was the owner of a tall cup of a highly yellowed refreshment. I can’t remember exactly, but I want to say that I waited until purchases and child were safely situated before that first taste. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, really, but I know it was something different than I got. The smooth creaminess blended perfectly with the tart lemon and the sugar. I didn’t realize that was at all possible, until right that very moment, but it was the most perfect fruit and lemonade combination possible.
I’ve learned, over the years, that the banana option is usually reserved for weeks between harvests or when they want to sneak it in and expand palates. It only shows up once, possibly twice a season and my eyes light up, now, seeing the happy yellow banana on the sign declaring the flavors instead of the unnerved skepticism of that first week.
Do you have strong feelings about flavored lemonades? Do me a favor and try one with banana. It might just be the best lemonade you will try.