Sunday, October 22, 2006

A very rare post on the joys of dairy

I grew up a cheese head. There was always a kilo or 2 of yellow cheddar or tasty cheese in the fridge. Not far away would be a mouldy chunk of blue, my father’s favourite that was referred to as the “stinky cheese”. My parents for all their conservatism liked strong flavours. My dad not only loved old stinky, but the strongest, most garlicky salami he could find. He also taught us a curry is declared worthy only when it’s hot enough to cause you to blow your nose. Some years working in the Far East, before the rest of the obligatory OE* in London, had fortunately ‘ruined’ his palate for good.

The freezer always held icecream – vanilla, plain or if we were lucky, chocolate. I remember the brick like blocks in waxed cardboard, before the plastic tubs. Milk was used in baking, splashed on cereal or sometimes in an attempt to make us actually drink the stuff, whisked up with Quick (banana or chocolate). But cheese was all time favourite.

Discovering 2 decades ago that I was dairy allergic was a tragic day. I remember when I came out of denial, having had a big cheesy meal and feeling my heart galloping in response. I might have ignored the twisted feeling in my gut and written off the 10 colds a year to a weak immune system but the palpitations after I had done a ‘fast and challenge’ got me by my throat and onto a new path.

Occasionally I’ve strayed. Butter every now and then causes no ill effects and the odd sheep or goats product seems to get past the keeper. If I push it though, I get sick and no food is worth a week in bed.

One of the best things, I have discovered living in Melbourne is the odd indulgence in Sheep’s yoghurt from Meredith. Sure, as a child there was a stray pottle or 2 of Ski yoghurt in the fridge. They were highly sugared, with a synthetic flavour and it’s no wonder that I never took to the stuff. But Meredith Dairy’s creamy ambrosia is that of the gods. Or at least the Greek ones who fed me yoghurt and honey for breakfast every morning when I holidayed in Crete. This is luscious, unsweetened and made the old fashioned way.

My cat shares my passion. It is a rare treat when we get some sheep’s yoghurt, but we both appreciate every mouthful. This has been one of those weekends. Princess Prissy Paws is happy for a heaped spoonful on her plate. While I borrow from the Greeks and give it my own twist – a small snowy mound with a drizzle of maple syrup and at this time of year some fresh organic strawberries.

Sated now, dreaming of sunny islands, while the furry one retires with a smile that would put a Cheshire cat to shame.


* Note for the Non-Antipodians. "Overseas Experience" is the custom of Kiwis and Aussies going to the northern hemisphere, usually London, to work and travel.

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