Got Milk?

This refers to an ad campaign in the U.S. showing various celebrities (and at least in one case, the Mona Lisa) with white “mustaches” from drinking milk. With gusto, you assume.
I am a milk freak and have been since I was a child. Had I been permitted to, I would have drunk (drank? drunken? drinked? Making it up as I go along here) milk with every meal and every snack. But I was only allowed to drink milk at breakfast. For lunch and dinner, my choices were sweetened iced tea and sweetened iced tea. For snacks, I could have Coca-Cola.
I still find this puzzling. My mother was a registered nurse and had to know that milk is much healthier than tea or Coke. The only thing I can come up with to explain it is that milk was more expensive.
I wasn’t permitted to drink coffee at all, ever, but that was mainly because my mother didn’t like it and we never had it in the house. She made it for my father, but once he moved out, that was the end of coffee in our house.
So I developed an addiction to Coca-Cola. My first semester in college, one day I realized I was drinking 6 Cokes a day. So, I just stopped. Don’t ask me how I managed to do that.
Then I developed an addiction to coffee. With cream and sugar. The only time I’d tasted it (from my father’s cup), it was black. It dawned on me that I didn’t live at home anymore so I could drink anything I liked! One day I was at work, and realized that I was using like 4 packets of sugar for a 6-ounce Styrofoam cup of coffee. I was making syrup. So I just stopped that too.
I wasn’t addicted to Cokes or coffee, I was addicted to sugar. I still drink coffee…two cups every morning, black…but almost no sodas at all. I might drink half a Coca-Cola once a year. The carbonation is strangely refreshing. I drink ginger ale about that often.
Back to milk. I still love it and drink it at every meal, unless I have to try to act elegant and drink wine instead. But it turns out, I’m a mutant. Only 70% of the world’s population continues to produce the enzyme lactase after childhood, and it’s required in order to digest milk, whether it comes from your mother or from a cow or a goat or a fill-in-the-blank. It also turns out that people with extreme Northern European ancestry (Scandinavia, the British Isles) are most likely to continue to produce lactase (90% probability). People of African or Asian descent have only a 10% probability.
I knew about lactose intolerance in cats, which I learned the hard way. I once rescued this little feral kitten from the streets of New Orleans (“Erin”), who wasn’t weaned and didn’t know how to eat solid food. So I added milk. He snarfed it up. Once he began eating the solid food, I quit adding milk. Later on, I decided to give him milk as a treat and he was the very definition of sudden projectile vomiting. It was very impressive. Halfway across the room.
But it isn’t just cats…it’s all mammals. I can think of a lot of good evolutionary reasons for this. For one thing, it encourages the baby mammals to become independent and start eating other things, and if necessary, to go out and hunt for them. (Mom will not always be there.) It lets the mother rest and build up reserves for the next baby.
I’d like to mention that I had another cat who got sick and I fed her baby food meats mixed with rice, on the advice of the vet. While I’ve never tried canned or dry cat food, baby food veal is really yummy stuff. I hope PETA isn’t reading.
But lucky me! I can still drink milk and eat ice cream to my heart’s content.

6 responses to “Got Milk?

  1. Growing up in the same household, my experiences are different, fancy that! I was forced to drink milk for breakfast and blessedly got sweet iced tea at all other times, with the occasional Coke. This caused me no end of trouble in elementary school where milk was the only beverage offered and I generally threw it out. Confronted with this behavior, I told my teachers that I didn’t have to drink milk at home and I wasn’t doing it at school either. They were appalled of course.

    It’s a wonder that my bone density is decent all these years later because I sure as heck wasn’t getting sufficient building blocks for it in my early diet.

    In my early working years, I was drinking 6 Cokes or more a day and quit. Sitting at a desk all day did not burn up that many calories. I drink coffee black by choice, with cream if the coffee is awful like in airplanes and Starbucks. But I still have milk with breakfast.

  2. I have developed a recent fondness for cafe con leche which indulges both your addictions, finish off every breakfast with it now and the extra calories usually hold me till lunch. Geez milk topped $4 a gal last month. Espresso coffee is not expensive if you buy the Cuban Bustelo. You will have to locate an espresso stove top pot for around $30 if you decide to indulge. I use a microwave to heat the milk to a froth and just add the espresso to taste.

    Goes real good with a morning reading of Natchez Burning (or Joe Nesbo):)

  3. How are you liking Natchez Burning, pt? I’m hoping spencercourt will weigh in on this post, since he is partly Asian it would be interesting to see if he can tolerate milk. Fakesister, do you actually drink milk, or just have it with cereal?

  4. OK, here I am FN and PT….

    I had to Google the symptoms of lactose intolerance because I wasn’t sure if flatulence is one of them and it is not, so I am do NOT have that problem. (Lactose intolerance; the flatulence is probably from eating too fast.)

    Remember that I am only 1/4 Asian and 3/4 European, including 1/4 Spanish and the other half a mix of Polish and…Scandanavian (yah!). So maybe that latter saved me because I love dairy products. I always have cheese, cream cheese (for bagels) and usually ice cream in the house.

    As a kid, I had cereal for breakfast during school days, so I drank milk. In college, we had a “buffet” style meal plan and while most of my friends drank cola or maybe tea, I drank milk because by that time I was more nutritionally conscious. I still have cereal for breakfast and use skim milk.

    Now with my cafe con leche, and even just regular coffee, I use both artificial sweetner and a heaping tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk for “mugs” and a teaspoon for espresso. (I stock up on the sweet condensed milk when i’ts on sale.)

    As for the espresso stove pot, Publix has them for a reasonable price below $30. Depends on the size you want.

    But I also like French Press, which used to be reasonable but price has gone up as they became popular. With French press, you can control brew time for strength. And I can heat water to just below boiling in microwave.

    Those small 4-cup makers rarely have the wattage to heat the water to optimal temp and many of the 10-12 cups may be inadequate or overkill. When I’m lazy and use my 4-cup, I heat the water in microwave for 30 seconds before pouring it into coffeemaker.

    And don’t use tap water to make coffee, which is only as good as the weakest link. Coffee is mostly water, so don’t undermine your coffee with tap water. I buy the purified water from machines for 30 cents a gallon at places like Publix, Walgreens and even Whole foods.

    As PT says, the Bustelo is a good deal. I also grind any of my dark roasts into espresso.

    And PT, I saw something on a travel show (Create channel I think) about that puerth (?) tea you like. They went to a region in China that grows it and the really good stuff was in the four digits an ounce if I recall. And like Japan, there is a ritual for drinking it.

  5. Yes, sc, the European part of your ancestry did save you in this case. Cheese, including cream cheese and yogurt don’t count. As Fakesister (who is very knowledgeable about the science of food) pointed out to me yesterday in a conversation, the process of making cheese and yogurt eats up the lactose.
    Pretty much ever since I started eating black beans in any form, I’ve always had them with sour cream, but this (pretty bad) Cuban restaurant I occasionally go to doesn’t have sour cream. My Cuban employee says that Cubans don’t eat sour cream. I still don’t understand that. Cubans do have cows. Sour cream is one of the joys of life.

  6. I drink milk, Fakename. Or have it on cereal. Either one or the other, depending on the day’s menu.

    Sour cream? Meh. Maybe, maybe, a dab on a fajita or a baked potato.

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