Sunday, April 23, 2006

"kefir" is russian for "always drink in a short glass"

Since I was a little girl in Sweden, I have had a love of all things dairy. I remember being about 8 and being the only person brave enough (or perhaps just too young to know better) to sample some fresh goat cheese off some woman's finger. I don't remember why -- I hope this was something she was supposed to be doing and not just some crazy person walking around with a bowl of cheese and sticking her finger in people's faces.

A month or so ago, I first tried goat's milk. It has good flavor, but wasn't smooth enough. Also, the goat on the label was really creepy. I also tried water buffalo yogurt, which I highly recommend. It's so thick, it has an attitude. You dig in a spoon and it hangs on like regular yogurt wishes it could -- it dares you to try to fling it off. Instead, you just slurp it up and go "Mmm." This is not yogurt for the timid. It will sense your weakness and suckerpunch you when you try to open it. And then it will laugh at you. Don't fuck with the water buffalo.

Today, I tried kefir, which is a Russian yogurt-smoothie-milk-drink-thing. You just have to call it "kefir." I don't think there's an adequate English word to describe it. Besides, its friend the water buffalo yogurt might slap you around a little if you call it a smoothie.

It's thick, but not sludgy the way those smoothie drinks tend to be. The flavor is subtle, but more than adequate. You can taste the sharp plain-yogurt flavor, but it's complemented by the strawberry (or blueberry, or pomegranate -- whatever you were lucky enough to grab). You get the sense that you are consuming dairy, not just some mushed-up strawberries with some yogurt splashed in for a creamy texture. It's also good for you. The packaging has all these little facts about kefir, like the people who originally thought it up about 2,000 years ago consistently live to be over 100. And it's probiotic. And it's all-natural. And it knows how to calm down some renegade yogurt. Well, I made up that last one, but I have a feeling I could count on kefir to have my back.

So what if you have terrible cheese-breath afterward? It's delicious. I could have consumed the entire bottle, which is allegedly four servings, in one sitting. I grabbed a spoon to scrape out my glass when holding it upside down over my mouth stopped producing little drops of creamy heaven. Then when I couldn't spoon out any more, I licked the glass. I lament that I do not have a freakishly long giraffe tongue. It would have been worth 23 years of mockery just to know that I'd always be able to get all the kefir out of a glass.

After you try this stuff, you'll wish you were a mutant, too.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

manda the couch and the slushie chronicles

I'm not dead, just boring.

So boring, in fact, that I have become furniture:

Manda the Couch

Tonight, Alicia (a friend of mine at work) told me she had a craving for a Slushie. Being the impressionable food-lover that I am, I also started craving a Slushie. Just saying the word is satisfying; it conjures images of blue tongues and those waxy paper cups with the puppy on the side. It rolls off the tongue as easily as the product itself. Slushie. I could feel the side of my hand getting sticky already as we hopped in our cars and took off for the BP station, purported purveyor of all things icy and vaguely berry-flavored, down the road.

On the way there, I kept thinking about the trip that Cindy (my Wife) and I took to Royal Farms during my senior year of college. How four miles and a couple hours could be so memorable, I don't really know.

We talked about bad sex, the crazy guys who fished off the bridge at midnight, and poetry. We drank milk from a dairy case that mooed. We looked at porn. We analyzed the poetic merits of greeting cards. We watched the Krispy Kreme being delivered. Then we ate it.

It was because of these fond memories that my hopes were so high that they were destined to be dashed cruelly against the rocks of Broken Slushie Machines. No vague berry flavor! No numb tongue! No waxy stuff that somehow always gets under your fingernails! No puppy cup! No sticky hands! Woe, woe unto he who wishes for Slushies at 11 PM.

And so it was bereft of icy treats that I had to leave the BP lot. And it was bereft of sanity and possibly night vision that some old man in his Buick Landmasse decided that he needed to not only drive into the lot at that moment as I was exiting, but that he needed to occupy the same space in time that I happened to be using. I'm quite familiar with these people; they all live in the general East End area with me. They think that by driving directly at my car -- but doing so extremely slowly -- will cause my car to shrink, or to become vaporous, or not exist entirely. I'm actually not sure what these people think, but I do know that they don't think about moving over onto their own side of the road, or -- horror of horrors -- yielding to someone else for three seconds.

Because this particular BP lot was designed by a remedial geometry class at the School for the Cross-Eyed, I had to get the nose of my car further over to the left than would ordinarily be desirable. I wasn't blocking access entirely (and cars could certainly drive to the right of my car) but there really wasn't enough room for someone to get through that hole. Strike that. Someone in a LaDouche wasn't going to get through. There was, however, more than enough room for me to pull out. But who yields? Instead, I got to do the Dance of the Indecisive Yet Aggressive Nitwit, where I rock back and forth in first gear, and every time I move forward, he inches toward me, blocking my path. Eventually, he forced me to swing out and go around him as he forced his Coupe De Old Manne into a space more suited for a Barbie Ferrari. And he had the nerve to glare at me -- not angrily, but with a mild look of disapproval.

Watch it, old man. I've threatened more than my share of crossing guards for a lot less. (That condescending "the children are our future; please don't turn them into speedbumps" look makes my blood pressure skyrocket every fucking time.) The only reason I didn't jump out and scream at that jackass is because my coworker was still there. Maybe he'll die in his sleep. On a Manda couch. While I'm having a Slushie.