Monday, October 15, 2012

No Leche Fría

My 16 year old daughter has tasted two beverages in her life:  milk and water.  You read that right.  She has never sipped a soda, juice of any kind, iced tea, hot cocoa, or even mineral water.  We have adjusted to this oddity by bringing milk basically anywhere we go for longer than a few hours where it might not be available.

As I've blogged before, this becomes a problem for us in Europe where milk is not commonly drank as a daily - or in our family's case - obsessive beverage.  In some countries, such as Belgium and the Netherlands, the milk situation has improved and one can generally find good-tasting (read:  American milk-like tasting) cold milk in the supermarkets.  In other countries, one may find milk, but only what my family calls shelf milk:  unrefrigerated milk that has been highly pasteurized and tastes somewhat, well, "cheesy" as my kids like to say.  My daughter, in her desperation, can acclimatize herself to this milk, but my son will not.

Shelf milk in Spain.

Of course I was curious what kind of milk we would find in Spain and Portugal last summer.  The results were mixed.  In Seville we had no luck at all, but that was probably not due to a lack of milk, but rather to a lack of supermarkets.  The only shop we had within walking distance was a very small mini-market.  In the medium-sized town of Ronda, Spain, we found no milk at all - not in the very large Maxi Dia supermarket or any mini-market.  In Tarifa, Spain, we found cold milk at the very large, extremely busy Supermercado, but only in 1 liter containers.  Our family drinks a half a gallon at every meal, so we emptied the shelves.  Non-fat, low-fat, and whole milk were available and tasted good enough even for my son to drink.

One liter cartons of cold milk at Supermercado in Tarifa.

As in most European countries, getting a glass of tap water at a restaurant in Spain or Portugal is challenging, if not impossible.  First, you must try to explain that you don't want sparkling water.  This concept is extremely difficult for most Europeans, especially Germans, to understand.  If that has been successfully conveyed you must now attempt to convince them that you don't want bottled still water.  You want it from the tap - der Leitungshahn, de grifo, le robinet.  It rarely works, no matter how hard you try.  You'll almost always receive, and have to pay for, bottled water.  In a restaurant in Malaga the waiter tried to tell us the water in Spain is not drinkable, yet we'd been drinking it for weeks.  My advice is to bring your own bottle of tap water - no restaurant in Europe that I've been to has ever objected to that.

1 comment:

  1. I can actually relate! My younger daughter drinks nothing but milk and water and the older one mostly water as well as an occasional hot chocolate or frapuccino from Starbucks. Milk is always an issue for us in Europe - Emma generally drinks water the entire time because she doesn't like the taste of the milk!


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