On Monday I decided that for lunch I was going to eat one of the two Tina's frozen burritos that had been in the freezer for a couple of months. These burrito's are really not that great, but they are cheap and easy to zap in the microwave for a simple thought-free meal. They are passable, but I'd probably rather have a fast food burrito like Taco Bell. But for those one person meals or for busy mothers feeding teenagers who have no taste for fine food, Tina's burritos fill the bill.
As soon as I decided on lunch I immediately thought of buttermilk. Where this came from I have no idea, but it just seemed like the right accompaniment for the frozen soy product-filled frozen tubes that Tina made. I started craving buttermilk and when I get a craving for something I have to satisfy the craving so it will go away. I needed some groceries anyway, so I went to the market. Since the half gallon size of buttermilk was the far better deal, that's the one I got. Now I could plan on several days of drinking buttermilk.
Fred introduced me to a lot of foods to which I was not accustomed. We never had biscuits or gravy for breakfast when I was growing up. I was especially intrigued by Fred's description of Red-eye Gravy like his father made. He made it in a cast iron skillet with country ham drippings, coffee grounds, and a cup of strong coffee. Sounded weird to me, but I was curious. Since I have always liked anchovies on pizza and salty things in general, I loved the salty country ham. Now, biscuits and sausage gravy or country ham biscuits are two of my breakfast favorites.
Gravy and country ham seemed like pretty normal fare, but when Fred started talking about drinking buttermilk I was a bit more dubious. Of course, I was familiar with buttermilk, but I thought it was something you used for cooking and not for drinking straight. Fred was insistent. He told me how he liked to drink it with cornbread or potato chips crumbled into it. There was nothing like it for a hot summer day refresher. That's what Fred said with great enthusiasm, but I was not convinced.
Then one lazy warm summer afternoon I was over at Fred's house and he poured himself a glass a buttermilk. He insisted I try some and poured some of the yellowish dairy sludge into a glass for me. I'd seen milk that looked like that before and it meant the milk had gone bad. I sniffed the substance in my glass. It smelled like milk gone bad. I didn't think that it was a good idea to drink it, but there was Fred gulping away.
Warily, I took a sip. This was rancid spoiled milk--it was absolutely gross. Fred egged me on to drink more. I took another taste and gagged. This was not something that I was able to stomach. And there sat Fred across from me finishing off his glass of buttermilk and then settling back looking satisfied with a thick buttermilk mustache. I didn't know how he could enjoy this stuff, but he obviously liked it a great deal.
After that I would sometimes tease Fred about his buttermilk. He didn't seem to drink it that often, but apparently sometimes he would get a craving for it and down a glass or even a whole quart carton. I would shake my head as I wondered how he could drink the awful stuff. I had no interest in trying it again.
Years later something odd happened. I began to want some buttermilk. By this time I had seen many other people drinking and enjoying buttermilk and I thought that maybe I should give it another try. Now in my thirties, I had tried many different foods that I would have never touched in my teenage years and buttermilk began to sound interesting to me. I bought a quart, took it home, and poured a big glass, liberally seasoning it with salt and pepper. Cautiously, I tasted it. It still seemed kind of rancid, but the salt and pepper helped improve the taste. While eating some fried pork rinds, I continued to drink it until I finished it. Actually it wasn't too bad after you got used to it. And it made a nice accompaniment to the pork rinds.
Since that day I have periodically had cravings for buttermilk and have picked up a quart or a half gallon that I will finish off in a few days. It's good with cornbread or popcorn. My favorite is drinking it along with crunchy tacos from Taco Bell. I'll get buttermilk every three months or so--I don't drink it with great frequency, but I sometimes get a craving. I don't know how good it is for me, but I'm sure it's probably fattening so it's better that I don't drink too much.
I'm not sure why those Tina's Burritos would have made me crave buttermilk. It was just one of those things that seemed to come to me from out of nowhere. Maybe it was a message from Fred. I'm sure if Fred would have been eating those burritos he would have been drinking beer with them. I don't know if he would be eating those burritos anyway.
And so I raise a glass of buttermilk to Fred. "Here's to trying new things and letting them grow on you."
Is there any food that you hated at first, but you eventually developed a taste for? What's your opinion of buttermilk as a beverage? Do you have a favorite way of drinking it? Or do you equate buttermilk with spoiled, curdled milk like I used to?