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.


fhqwhgads said...

My car hit a water buffalo once. I had to borrow some lady's towel.

I really have nothing of value to add to the cheese/milk/yogurt conversation, as I have recently found that I am lactose intolerant. However, I will never let the fact that I have nothing of importance to say stop me from posting a comment on the interweb.

Scott said...