Looking for Grace–Four Seasons Juice Bar

Americans have a tumultuous relationship with food and drink. From 19th century vegetarians who advocated abstinence to contemporary fitness gurus who urge dieters to pour salt over uneaten desserts, we haven’t figured out how to guiltlessly enjoy the prodigious bounty to which we have access.

Counterintuitively, entrepreneurship has closely followed. A market niche defined by controlling desire is still a market niche, after all. Grape juice was invented in Vineland, NJ in the mid 19th C as an non-alcoholic alternative to wine, for those who espoused teetotaling and healthy living. Quite a remarkable achievement, since grape juice, left undisturbed, wants to turn all that sugar content into alcohol. The inventor, one Thomas Bramwell Welch, founded a company that you may have heard of. By the 1930s, vegetables were going through the same processing with the invention of the electric juicer. V-8, Jack Lalanne–both hawked juices as the key to bodily vigor.

Given the decadence of the past few (holi)days, I, not one who often falls for such trappings, felt a visceral need to ingest something healthy. And not just healthy, but aggressively so. Something that would cause others to look at me and think, enviously, “I’d like to be so aggressively healthy, too.”

Four Seasons Juice Bar sign

someday 1987 will seem like a long time ago...

I turned to Four Seasons Juice Bar.

Round the corner from Kamal’s Middle Eastern Market, which also makes juice, Four Seasons is a literal cornucopia. This place is bananas, and apples, and celery, and wheatgrass, growing in containers and ready to be added to your drink for an extra charge.

bananas

like a doll's eyes...

It can be overwhelming and disappointing. There’s a list of suggested juice combinations, sure, but how can any self-respecting food lover deny the impulse to experiment? On today’s foray, I ignored the delicious concoctions ordered by the people ahead of me, one a viscous green that seemed to indicate kiwi as a main ingredient, and the other a berry mix that, standard as it probably was, looked delicious. Nope, for me the combo ended up being carrots (sweet and healthful), ginger (good for digestion after all the desserts of the last few days) and parsley (just to see what that would be like). While we waited for the extraction to begin–and I have to pause here to note how odd it seems that there are entire “restaurant” chains where nothing is ever cooked–I glanced at the nutrition posters hanging above. Could we have added sweet potato or was that just for informational purposes? Murky, as was our drink, a frothy coral confection.

sipping

frothy goodness

We sipped. Cool, refreshing nutrients slipping down our gullets feeding both our bodies and our self righteousness. Until we ended up at the deli ordering a potato knish. This, of course, is the other thing that Americans are experts at–falling from grace with the hallejuah! possibility of future redemption.

Recommended: experimentation and smugness! but maybe not parsley with carrot and ginger juice.

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About Mary Rizzo

No denying it, I like the sensual things of the world, especially good food and drink, though I'm no snob when it comes to either. A background in American cultural history and food studies makes me approach the world with a desire for contextualization and connection on the way to synthesis.
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3 Responses to Looking for Grace–Four Seasons Juice Bar

  1. Young Wifey says:

    I grew up just outside Philly, my family shopped at Reading Terminal and ate foods others kids deemed “strange”. Now as a young adult I love cooking, baking, candy making and eating too… I currently live in Central PA (Meat & Potato Capital, Farmville USA) and miss having the plethora of ingredients that are available at the market, at my fingertips. I was so happy to stop in and visit while I was home visiting my family at Christmas!

    • Mary Rizzo says:

      what a great experience to have had as a kid! access to all of those awesome ingredients at reading terminal market is mind-blowing.. i remember a friend telling me that she was working with urban youth who had never seen a fresh pineapple, so it also feels like a privilege, though it shouldn’t be..

  2. Mary Rizzo says:

    an update–went back to four seasons and had carrot-ginger-coconut juice.. i’m not sure if it was coconut water, or they juiced coconut meat, but it was good.

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