The Gravy: In the Kitchen with Renard Poché

Renard Poche: The Gravy recipe for Citrus Cocktail. Photo by Elsa Hahne.

Renard Poche. Photo by Elsa Hahne.

“I don’t exactly have a name for this, but I guess we can call it a citrus fruit cocktail. How this came about is, I’ve always liked lemonade, and a few years ago I went through a really bad time, so I was looking online for natural anti-depressants. Citrus fruit was high on the list: citrus, salmon—even salt. I thought salt and sugar were depressants, but according to the research I did more recently, I found that a little salt can lift you. And actually, this has worked. I don’t know if it’s the power of suggestion, but it does. I had a few losses: my mother had passed, my daddy had passed, my brother had passed. Just a whole lot of stuff. When it rains it pours and this was soon after Katrina. Hard times. So that’s what led me to this. I’ve been doing it for over a year now and I think it’s fruitful—eh, I didn’t intend that.

I keep a supply. I fill this container, which is probably 64 ounces. When it runs out, I do it again. I’ll go through it in two days, three days sometimes, depending on what’s going on. Then I make another one. If I’m too lazy, or just don’t have time to do it, then I’ll just eat an orange straight up. So I’m consuming citrus fruit just about every day. This is like a pleasure food for me. If I’m in the studio practicing, I’ll have a 16-ounce glass like this and sip on it., might do two of them.

I’m kind of an old-school guy in a lot of ways, I had the manual citrus juicer. But when I lost it, I got this electric one, and I get a lot more juice out of the fruit now.

My sister has tasted this, and the keyboard player in my group, Keiko. She came over, we were rehearsing, or as Dr. John would say, ‘We was rehearsalin’,’ and she liked it a lot. This is nothing fancy, just a version of lemonade. I’m still vacillating, kind of experimenting, with what I prefer. It’s a little smoother with more orange balancing out the bite of the lime and lemon. Makes sense, right?

I want to get the perfect mixture. I write it down sometimes. Sometimes I do two oranges, one lemon and one lime, depending on availability. I’m going to sweeten this with stevia extract in the liquid form. My sister and my brother- in-law thought it was too sweet, so I backed off the stevia and found that I really enjoyed it more because now I’m getting more the taste of the fruit. Stevia extract has alcohol in it, 11 percent. I mention that to anybody who’s going to try it because maybe they can’t do alcohol for some reason. It’s not much, but I still feel like I should mention it.

I saw an acupuncturist once and he said you shouldn’t use ice, and I didn’t ask why because I assumed it was for your heart. My mother had a heart attack once and she said they told her not to drink anything too cold. So I try not to use ice, if I can. I try to have the state of mind to keep everything in the refrigerator.

I eat simple. I don’t have many guests. Like my sister visiting, she said, ‘Renard, all you eat is nuts and berries.’ Breakfast, five or six days out of the week, this is what I eat [taking packets of frozen fruit out of the freezer]. Dark cherries, blueberries, all these dark things are high in anti-oxidants. And it’s good to have fruit on an empty stomach, otherwise it ends up fermenting in the tract somewhere. It’s always fruit for breakfast. If I don’t do the berries, I’m doing peaches or apples or banana, that kind of thing. But two hours later, I’m eating real food. I have a fast metabolism, so I eat five or six times a day. I eat a lot of whole wheat pasta, or spinach pasta, and salmon. Also, I’m a bachelor and I like sardines. I bought seven packets last night and in two weeks, they’ll be gone. I eat salad, with the yellow, orange and red peppers, grape tomatoes and spinach, romaine and assorted greens, then I’ll add walnuts and dried cranberries, olives and I’ll pour some of the olive juice on it. Quick and easy. I always like the dark vegetables because they have more nutrients.

My parents cooked, but it was more like soul food. Occasionally now, I’ll eat soul food. Fried chicken, that might happen once or twice a month. The philosophy I follow is that 85 percent of what I eat is good. The other 15 can be bad.


Renard’s Citrus Cocktail

2 large lemons
1 large orange
4 large key limes (or 1 lime)
1 1/2 quart water
1/2 tsp stevia extract (or 6 envelopes stevia powder)

Juice citrus. Add juice to water along with some pulp. Sweeten with stevia. Enjoy cold in a tall glass.