Simon Kelner: Unappealing fake juice generates lots of pulp friction

Do you remember that scene in Fawlty Towerswhen an American guest asks for freshly-squeezed orange juice?

Share
Related Topics

 

Do you remember that scene in Fawlty Towers when an American guest asks for freshly-squeezed orange juice? His demand is greeted with incredulity. “Out of an orange, not out of a bottle,” he explains firmly. Later at dinner, he asks if he can change his mind and not have the fruit salad. “A bit tricky,” says Sybil Fawlty. “Chef’s already opened the tin.” The quality of our dining experience has improved a little since then, but even now, in the days of escabeche of this, tian of that and carpaccio of the other, one thing has not changed. It’s still pretty difficult to get fruit juice that comes straight from the fruit and not via a bottling plant. I know this is not the biggest privation we face in these difficult days and there was a time – not very long ago – when bottled orange juice was a luxury starter at a fancy restaurant, but I do think it is worth noticing.

I was taken for breakfast yesterday in a smart London establishment and there, on the menu was “fresh pink grapefruit juice” at a mighty four quid a pop. I asked our waitress whether “fresh” meant “freshly squeezed” or “freshly bottled”.

 Rather puzzled by my question, she went away to investigate. “It’s out of a bottle,” she said. “But it’s very good.”

This doesn’t just happen in Britain. A couple of years ago, I was in California where, you might assume, there’s a ready access to fresh fruit and it was the same story. Nearly everywhere we went, fruit juice came out of a carton.

“But we are actually in Orange County,” I said in exasperation at one hotel. “As soon as it is squeezed, it is delivered to us,” was the response.

I think the trades description act should be brought into play. It’s the use of the word “fresh” that I have a problem with. The orange juice that we’re palmed off with in top restaurants and hotels is hardly any fresher than a tin of baked beans. It’s like those signs that we see in pubs that advertise “freshly cut sandwiches”. Yes, they may have been cut recently, but there’s no guarantee any of the ingredients are fresh.

You see the same weasel words employed in “home cooked meals”. This conveys an image of someone preparing dishes using fresh ingredients and then cooking them. Wrong. That’s “home made meals”.

This is more likely to be the sort of meal that is assembled in a warehouse, delivered by pantechnion and then slotted into a microwave. That is my understanding of what can constitute a “home cooked meal”.

In nearly every way, eating out in Britain today is light years ahead of the days of Basil and Sybil Fawlty, but that doesn’t mean we, as customers, shouldn’t still be vigilant. Watch out for careless – and misleading – use of the word “fresh” and don’t be afraid to ask exactly what it means in the context. We are supposed to live in an era when consumers have the power, and when we should pay attention to what we eat. People of Britain – it’s time to get fresh!

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Whoever and whatever Arthur was, he wasn’t Scottish

Guy Keleny
Labour's Jeremy Corbyn arrives to take part in a Labour party leadership final debate, at the Sage in Gateshead, England, Thursday, Sept. 3  

Jeremy Corbyn is here to stay and the Labour Party is never going to look the same again

Andrew Grice
The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea