It has been said in the past that some of the fruit in restaurants may not be as clean as it should be. Or clean at all. Particularly lemons which come out of the box, onto the cutting board and then into your drink. Those lemons are covered with the fingerprints of every migrant worker from Southern California and beyond. I have written about that before, here. But I want to retract part of that statement and say that sometimes lemons are supremely sterile and sanitized. It does happen, but sometimes it’s an accident.
At my job, we don’t have someone who washes our dishes. We put the glasses in a rack and carry them downstairs to the dishwasher and run them ourselves. Since it’s just a cocktail place, it’s not that big of a deal. I dumped a glass into the rack and saw a lemon wedge fall into the bottom of the rack and assumed that it fell through the cracks and into the bus tub below. When I carried the rack downstairs, I noticed that the lemon wedge was still at the bottom of the rack when I put the glasses in the dishwasher. “Oh well, it’ll fall out in the wash cycle,” I theorized and pressed the start button. A few minutes later when I was unloading the hot, clean glassware, I noticed that the lemon wedge was still there. It had survived the wash cycle and was now the cleanest fruit in the place, with the exception of a couple of performers who are pretty fruity and probably pretty clean. But it was definitely the cleanest lemon in the place. I could have reached down into the rack to pick up the lemon and toss it into the trash can, but I decided to leave it there and started refilling the rack with more dirty glasses. Again, it went through the dishwasher and the lemon persisted. Throughout the night, that damn lemon wedge went through the dishwasher at least seven or eight times and it just kept on hanging’ on. This is what I imagine the lemon wedge to be saying and you should pretend that it is being performed by Meryl Streep ala Sophie’s Choice or Scarlett O’Hara in her big “I’ll never go hungry again” moment in Gone With the Wind:
I am lemon. I was dirty but now I’m clean. Lost, but now I’m found. I shall make up for all my dirty brother and sister lemon wedges and will represent clean drink garnishes for everyone across the land. Every other lemon and lime slice that tonight went into a Cosmo or vodka/tonic was unclean, but I have suffered 182° temperatures, soap, steam, darkness and the fear of the unknown so that someday I can go into a serving of iced tea and not contaminate the side of the glass. I am clean, hear me roar. Take me, oh server, and let me rest inside a Diet Coke so that I can enhance the taste of it while not adding filth and germs. For my uncleanliness has been washed away along with the shame that I carried for being such an unclean lemon wedge. I have been sanitized. I have been sterilized. I have been Jet Dried. As God is my witness, I’ll never be dirty again. (cue: orchestra music.)
At the end of the night I threw that tired soggy ass lemon wedge into the garbage can and dragged the bag of trash to the street.