It was a crisp Fall morning in NYC. She walked East on 84th street, stopping at the bodega on the North-West side of York and 84th. On this November morning she noticed a young girl holding a carton of buttermilk, the Amish brand, the good kind.
The girl was in her early teens, blonde hair, and spoke French to her parents. A French family in the Upper East Side was not uncommon. A teenager holding a carton of buttermilk was.
As she perused over the endless choices of dairy- skyr, yogurt, kefir, quark, brie, cows milk, goat’s milk, and sheep’s milk, she realized that the dairy section was much like the small town where she grew up in Maine; the smallest area with the largest population per capita.
As she gazed at the young girl her mind wandered to Winter 2018 when she spent Christmas drunk off Glüwein under the Eiffel Tower. She ate dinner at a presumed touristy restaurant nearby as she could not be bothered to walk too far in the cold as the effects of hot mulled grape skins diminished and her hunger appeared. It wasn’t until a young Italian college student approached her as she sat quietly at her table that she realized she was alone on Christmas Eve.
“Would you like to sit with us?” asked the young girl, straight brow hair, slender, and eyes the color of homesick; if homesick were to be a color.
She sat with the girl and her friend, both studying away from home for the holidays. It felt nice to be invited, yet at the same time it was also a reminder that she was away from her family and friends too. Bittersweet was a good adjective to describe the situation.
The next morning after spending Christmas Eve dinner with an Italian angel she went to the supermarket for souvenir shopping. That is what she liked to call it. While some people bought t-shirts and key chains she opted for the local products that adorned everyday kitchens. She went to her favorite section, dairy, and it was here she noticed the word “fermente” on a bottle.
“Aha- ‘fermente’=’fermented; let thy supermarket be thy language teacher,” she said to herself.
She did not need to seek out the whole milk variety as she often had to back in the States. The only variety available happened to be whole. She liked this place.
The French “kefir” or “laban” that she purchased tasted more sour than her taste buds were acquired to. She enjoyed the intense tang on her tongue. This “lait fermente” was just the right temperature, intensity and mouthfeel. “Of course,” she thought, “the French obsession around food was part of their DNA.”
Remembering that Winter in Paris was poignant. As she came back into the present moment her vision became clear and she saw the young girl and her parents were paying in cash for their groceries. The “lait fermente” was not to be mistaken with it’s global cousins. It was, after all, a buttermilk affair.
-The Nutrition Lowdown:
Le Lait Ribot
Lait Fermente by Payson Breton
A fermented drink made from cow’s milk and selected lactic ferments that makes it easier to digest vs. cows milk alone. Beneficial bacteria promoting a healthy gut. Tangy, acidic taste- may take some getting used to but well worth it. Think of it as a taste bud detox.” Add to crepes, use in cereal, or be bold and drink from the bottle like I do.
For those of you looking for a hands-on project try making buttermilk at home! It is easier than you may think. If you are a city dweller like myself it is also a fun way to connect with the food since
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