Sunday, November 21, 2010

Got Ja Milk?

The four of us in our family are huge milk drinkers.  Voluminous.  The milkman delivers 5 ½ gallons to our doorstep every Tuesday, and sometimes I even have to run to the store for more on the weekend.  Our taste for milk is a little bit of a predicament when we’re in Europe, though it’s becoming less difficult than it used to be.

I remember years ago, milk was normally
sold in plastic bags in Europe.
When my brothers and I were in Europe as children with my parents, no one understood how we could drink a glass of milk.  “Milk is for cooking and baking!” exclaimed my aunts, or, “Milk is for babies!”  At restaurants the servers would gape, “What?  Milk to drink?” and then bring us a teacup of frothy warm milk.  (It’s kind of like the way it used to be in Europe with ice:  upon being served a glass of warm Coke in a café once we asked for some ice.  The waiter served us one small, melting cube of ice on a platter.)

Now it’s become a little bit more acceptable (for a child, at least) to order a glass of milk at a restaurant, what with the whole organic/natural food movement taking hold all over the Western world.  I even overheard my cousin in Germany scolding her young daughter for not drinking more milk “like her American cousins.”

We don't like
shelf milk like
The only problem that still remains is the taste and availability of the milk in much of Europe.  (I say much of Europe because I think the Belgians and Dutch, which we observed last summer, have it figured out now.)  Commonly available at grocery stores is what my husband and I call, “Shelf milk.”  Shelf milk is not refrigerated, ergo, it sits on the pantry shelf.  It usually comes in a little one liter box, or, when I was young, a one liter plastic bag.  Shelf milk does not need to be refrigerated because of an ultra high temperature pasteurization process, and this results in a distinctly different taste which we are not accustomed to.  My kids can’t stand it.  They call it “cheese milk” because of its somewhat bovine flavor. 

But like I said, the situation is slowly improving.  Last summer we actually found a selection of refrigerated grocery store milk in whole, low-fat, and non-fat varieties in several countries!  Some of the brands, however, still had residual cheesy flavor, but they were tolerable, at least, in a bowl of cereal.  After a lot of sampling, we were delighted to find ja! milk, available in some of the larger supermarkets, which tastes darned close to what we're used to.  It's progress!  Ja!!

ja! milk was definitely the best tasting we've found so far.


  1. Great post! I find that it's actually easier to get the kids to try a completely new food than to eat "familiar" foods that taste different - like the milk. We've run into that with yogurt, chicken nuggets (made with actual pieces of chicken in most restaurants in France), chocolate, etc...

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