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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Smooth(ie) Operator...

Just the other day, on a balmy autumn afternoon (yes folks, ready or not, it’s autumn already), I was taking a leisurely stroll through the park with my banker-turned-fitness-instructor, friend Romy. (Bat not an eyelid, please, people - stranger things have been known to happen...)

Anyway, so my BTFI friend Romy, flushed and rejuvenated (whether from a run earlier that afternoon, her emancipation from the shackles of investment banking, or from my glorious and thoroughly enchanting company, I don’t know), turns to look at me, a bemused expression on her pretty face, and asks, “Soooo Ami. You can cook and all. Why does the world charge £6 for a smoothie? Does the world think a smoothie deserves £6? What do YOU think?

Hmm...

I’m foxed. Admittedly.

Because, while I generally laud the wisdom and good judgment of the world, and like to keep the flag of worldliness flying high, this question presents a grave conundrum. What do I think, she asks.

Well, here’s what I think (in my head):

I think that £6 for a smoothie is an outrage. Given that I can get a sushi roll for £4.80 and that, involves not only scarce resources (i.e. sashimi grade fish), but also an insane amount of skill. Like, really, have ya ever seen sushi chefs at work?? Cause if cooking is an art, then they are the indisputable Lord and Masters.

So – then, my friends, we return once more to the problematic matter of the £6 smoothie.  I mean, don’t get me wrong – I love a chilled, refreshing, smoothie as much as the next guy (or gal, in my case), and they’re awfully, awfully good for you.  And they are classified quite dramatically as a “Superfood” - the buzzword to end all buzzwords.  And we’re all suckers for buzzwords, aren’t we? “Superfood.” What a word. Think about it. Superfoods make us feel virtuous. Atone for past sins. Superfoods are the food(ie)quivalent of 5 Hail Mary’s.

i.e.

“I’m having a smoothie today”
“Oh, how come?”
“I had a cupcake yesterday”

And so on and so forth.

But no, seriously. The Superfoods in a smoothie are the antioxidants. Now, I’m sure you've all heard how good antioxidants are for you – they improve your skin, your health, fight cancer and extend your life expectancy. And while several fruits (prunes, plums, apples, sweet cherry, cranberries etc) are excellent sources of antioxidants, berries (the ubiquitous smoothie ingredient) pack the biggest punch of antioxidants, per serving size, of them all.

But all that notwithstanding – what on God’s earth are they charging for?

Because, here’s what you need (for 1 generously big glass of Very-Berry Smoothie):

- 1 banana (about 6 oz.), peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 cup orange juice (or 1 fresh orange, peeled and de-seeded)
- 1/2 cup nonfat yogurt
- 1/4 cup fresh raspberries
-1/4 cup fresh blackberries
- 5 cubes of ice

So, tell me please - what on God’s earth are they charging for?  Ice??

Now mind you, all this is me thinking (in my head).

I inhale deeply. The autumn air is crisp and cool and clean. Around me, the leaves have just begun to change colour. Golden brown and red. And russet.

And I look at Romy. She looks expectantly back at me.

“No. I tell her. £6 for a smoothie is highway robbery. Let’s prove it”

I barely wait for a response, grab her arm and start running through the park with great gusto.

“We’re going to Sainsbury’s,” I exclaim excitedly, “to buy stuff. And then to my flat. I am making a smoothie, and you’re going to do the Maths!”

So, arm in arm, me and my somewhat dazed BTFI friend Romy run across the length of Regent’s Park and arrive, somewhat breathless, at the fruit aisle of Sainsbury’s.

Here’s what we buy:

-  8 bananas for £0.87
-  8 oranges for £1.60
-  170g (2 cups) raspberries for £1.50
-  170g (2 cups) blackberries for £1.50
-  500g (4 cups) Non-Fat Yogurt for £0.90

Now, my friends, Managing Expenses entail Maths and Accounting. And Maths and Accounting are not my forte.

(You see, that’s why in my household, we have a system in place when it comes to Managing Expenses. Pure and Simple Division of Labour – Sid earns, I spend and Ranbir saves. It woks beautifully.)

Anyway, I digress. So, as you all know, Maths and Accounting are not my forte. But according to Romy who can do perfect Maths – (now, who says Bankers have no useful skills other than causing the world’s biggest recession?) – this all adds up to £6.37. And is enough material to make 8 smoothies. So, if we made the smoothies, and sold them at the retail price of £6 each, we would make £48. Having spent £6.37. Making our profit margin £41.63 or – (take a deep breath now) - a whopping 654%

Highway Robbery or what??? I mean - even my mathematically defunct brain can work out that much.

AND – smoothies are dead simple to make. Except for peeling the oranges. Which I must admit has to be the single most tedious household task that exists. But when you’re over that part, the rest is dead simple. So much so that I am not even going to bother to tell you. I mean, what’s there to tell? You just chuck the whole lot into the blender and blitz. Until it all becomes smooth as a smoothie, of course.

So as Romy takes a big gulp of antioxidant goodness from her large, chilled glass of Very-Berry Smoothie that I’ve just made for £0.80, she exclaims:

 “oooooh my! Ami! This is soooo good! And just look at the economics! Instead of a Fitness Instructor, I should have opened a smoothie stand in Regent’s Park! Is it too late?? What do YOU think?”

Uh oh. Once a banker, always a banker...

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