A Fennel Drinking Straw

I don’t get the straw thing. Why do all drinks served in restaurants have to come with a plastic straw? Don’t we have enough plastic trash swirling around our oceans?

While the drinking straw dates back to ancient times, the modern straw renaissance arises alongside the 19th century popularity of juleps and cobblers. Nineteenth century gentleman needed a straw to keep the mint out of their beards and they took to using humble stalks of rye grass. As rye breaks down quickly, some enterprising genius figured out how to make straws out of paper. In the 20th century straws evolved into the bendy plastic horror we’re all so familiar with. Ecological guilt led to a glass and stainless steel drinking straw trend during a brief period in the late aughts.

Our front and back yard have what I like to think of as fennel gyres that, just like those ocean plastic votices, just can’t be stopped. Having hollow stems, it occurred to me that fennel stalks might just be the ideal replacement to the ubiquitous plastic straw and could just spark the latest hipster trend. I vowed to give it a try.

As one might expect, a fennel stalk imparts a licorice taste to your beverage. Some might find this objectionable, like drinking toothpaste, but others might sense a cocktail opportunity. Dr. Google informs me that I’m not the first with this fennel stalk cocktail idea. Emily Han, a guest on episode 67 of the Root Simple Podcast, outscooped me back in 2013.

But perhaps, via crowd-sourced knowledge, we might make a vegetative drinking straw breakthrough. What other plant stalks could we replace all those plastic straws with?

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    • Kelly had that idea too. Like fennel, if you’ve got bamboo you would have no shortage of straws!

  1. Here’s why I like straws: Not every server has washed their hands, and if you do not use a straw your lips touch where they probably held your glass. That being said, if they were outlawed, I would happily bring a reusable one with me into any restaurant!

    • So… I carry an assortment of items now, and am beginning to fell a bit like a pack mule. Phone, wallet, pocketknife, keys, so where would i keep a steel straw, where it wouldn’t get bent?

    • In an artisinal, embossed leather straw holster? I kid, but another good reason to forgo straws.

    • I think it would be rare that a server would handle a glass by the rim. When I was a server this was one of the things we were taught not to do.

    • It’s something I’d have to wrap in a napkin and clean when I got home. As long as you only had something like iced tea, that would be no problem, but can’t say the same for chocolate shakes. As for servers not handling the glasses by their rim, it’s true….GOOD servers do not. But yesterday I had a server pick up my glass and hold it by the rim every time she refilled my iced tea. I was very happy I was drinking from a straw. Paper straws are another option I’d be happy to receive with a drink, no reason they should be plastic.

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