By Brian Spencer
I think I know the secret as to why the streets of Amsterdam are flooded with oceans of young and beautiful and healthy Dutch: Albert Heijn, and specifically the ubiquitous grocery store chain’s ambrosiac suite of bottled juices. Each is packed with an astounding amount of fruit, enough to easily satisfy your recommended daily — and close to your weekly — intake. Drink one of these every day, or even every other day, and the cumulative impact over weeks, months, years is undeniable. Because it can’t just be a superior gene pool, right?
Right: it’s just grocery store fruit juice. But trust me, they are amazing fruit juices! And they are fresh! And they come in three different bottle sizes so you can make like Goldilocks and choose the one that’s juuuuuust right! And the two smallest bottles cost less than 2 euro! AND THEY ARE DELICIOUS MY GOD ARE THEY DELICIOUS! It’s like liquified and bottled sex.
My wife and I have had an obsession with Albert Heijn’s fruit juices for more than a decade now; obsession to the point that when my wife travels to Amsterdam without me, I don’t ask her to bring back stroopwafels, or kaas, or chocolate, or Dutch beer, or cheap French wine: I ask for a bottle or two of fruit juice. During my recent nine-day visit, the only beverage I consumed in more copious amounts than AH fruit juice was craft beer, and that includes water. One of the first things I did after checking into my hotel? Walk to the AH Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, a rather shitty branch, but one that for whatever reason in which I always find myself, to make sure these were still available.
Praise the gods, for the refrigerated shelves were indeed lined with many bottles, and if I’m not mistaken a few new mixes had been added at some point between now and my last visit 8 years ago. My new favorite is the “mint, mango and pear,” an orgasmic blend of 13 pears, a half mango, and 50 grams of mint in the medium-sized bottle. Seriously: 13 pears are jammed in there.
Fruit proportions are just as ridiculous in others. A few examples:
+ 6 oranges and 20 strawberries
+ 10 apples, 4 pears, and 37 black currants
+ 3 apples, 38 raspberries, 1.25 bananas, 36 cranberries
+ 3.5 apples, 2 strawberries, 0.5 banana, 40 black currants, 30 blackberries
As I say, it’s not just the quantity of fruit that makes these such a treat; it’s the carefully chosen mixture of complementary fruits that adds up to one of the more pleasurable things to put in your mouth in Amsterdam. That’s saying a lot because, ahem, there are plenty of tasty things to put in your mouth in Amsterdam; I should probably stop there.
The great thing about (and for) Albert Heijn is that they have virtually no grocery store competition in the ‘Dam, so no matter where you are there’s likely a branch just around the corner; almost all stock AH’s signature fruit juice. You’ll usually find them in a refrigerated area near the produce section, or sometimes near the checkout area.
A bottle a day of AH fruit juice may not bring me the good looks of Amsterdam’s beautiful people, but I’ll happily settle for a few gulps of their good health.