There is nothing better than sex; my dear friend, Julius, will agree with me, but I do believe that a glass of chilled sugarcane juice comes awfully close. Whenever I touch down in my homeland or in any other country of South America or the Caribbean, it is the first thing I seek out. I could not believe my luck one time when I saw a sign saying "Fresh Sugarcane Juice" in the window of a small Middle Eastern restaurant in my neighborhood of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. I went into the restaurant to ask the proprietor whether he was messing with my mind. He definitely wasn't. You can imagine my delight. Unfortunately, his restaurant went out of business several months afterwards. Sugarcane juice, like coconut water (the other must-have when I touch down in the Caribbean or South America) is one of the beverages of the gods, summing up in its taste the pleasant memories of childhood and youth, as well as the pleasure of life.
There was one period when the sugarcane was for my siblings and me that which manna was for the children of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness. For several days the sugarcane was the source of our sustenance on account of the empty food cupboard that stared back emptily at us and on account of the table that lay bare before us. Thankfully, an abundance of sugarcane grew not too far (about fifty meters) from where my siblings and I lived. We would use our teeth to peel away it's tough exterior so we could chew on the much more yielding inside to extract the heavenly, delicious, rich, sustaining, and just-short-of-orgasmic juice. I have heard that the alkaline it contains is a good preventive against cancer. I am not surprised. I already know of its lifesaving virtue, having experienced it firsthand. It was our sole sustenance during a very difficult period. And so, I raise my glass (of sugarcane juice) in homage to the sugarcane.
[photo art by Ric Couchman]