Juicy Beautiful

Wearing an orange tee shirt, Shradha met me as I was stepping out of the car. Leading me to the dining area he said my name and very little else. The room was small and painted salmon. Orange sheets were draped in tents across the ceiling and six wooden tables lined the room’s perimeter. I slid into the booth. Shradha snuck into the kitchen. He reappeared seconds later balancing a metal cup and a shallow dish brimming with colors. He slid these to me and left me alone to consume my first impressions of Eco Yoga Park.

A twenty-something-hour bus ride, followed by another shorter one that was a pleasure in comparison, a quick pickup from a stranger, and a taxi brought me there, a small Hare Krishna farm community located a few hours outside of Buenos Aires in Argentina. This is where I would spend my next two weeks.

My lunch that day was one of the best I’d had during my stay. A tart of zucchini and salsa blanca nestled alongside a dollop of salmon-colored mayonnaise and luscious sliced cucumbers and tomatoes. The metal cup was sweating. It held a pulpy puree of mandarins.

The food was satisfying, generally healthy, simple, and often plain. Hare Krishnas do not eat meat, and from my stints in the kitchen with devotees, I gathered that spices and seasonings were rare.

Days were structured around four meals. Breakfast came early - some combination of chapatis and fruit, one day sweet, toasted oats. Lunch and dinner were basic marriages of rice, potatoes, and vegetables. Through I was treated to a portion of flan on my first day, sweets appeared only in the daily meriendas, or snacks - a simple orange cake, chapatis glazed with dulce de leche.

I passed long mornings in the vegetable garden among corn stalk, cherry tomatoes warm from the sun, and tiny ants who nibbled ceaselessly at my feet. Meal preparation was not my terrain, though I wished it was and I thought of it constantly. I was often the first to arrive for meals, waiting alone in the orange room and often eating alone at first as others' plates sat awaiting their arrival. I was nearly always pleasantly surprised with what came from the kitchen. I loved the chewy chapatis and mixing the meals' components which came separated on the plate.

Though details of the meals have now escaped my memory I find my mind often recalling the metal cups and the juices that filled them. On days when I'm hot, fatigued, and thirsty I find myself imaging my first day - sitting on a bench, exhausted, hungry, hot, and so, so thirsty. The simple juice revived me. I consumed it in two smooth gulps.

Devotees made each juice with fresh fruit and a blender, nothing more. I discovered on an evening spent helping with dinner preparation the facility of making them. It's with the juices' purity that I remember the food at Eco Yoga.

Orange-Banana Juice

Today was hot. Too hot for May. I came home completely deflated and ravenous from a long run. I needed food, but I was craving this juice. The Orange-Banana was the only one I received a "recipe" for, but it is the mandarin I had on my first day, and an icy ginger juice that stand out to me even now. Experiment, blend to your liking. It's hard to go wrong.

1 banana
2 oranges
about 5 ice cubes

Peel the banana and oranges. Cut each into smaller pieces. In a blender, puree the fruit and ice until liquefied but still pulpy.

Juice Inspired Smoothie

1 c watermelon, chopped and seeded
1 c strawberries, green removed
1/2 banana
1/2 c ice
1 c plain yogurt (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth.

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