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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Burritos and Buttermilk

              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.

      I was first introduced to buttermilk by my friend Fred Tilson.  Some of you may remember me talking about my friend Fred from back in Maryville, Tennessee.  He was a good ol' country boy with a rebel heart and he was one of the best rhythm guitar players I ever heard.  When I moved to Tennessee in the summer of 1966, Fred was among my first friends.  I had come there from the Northern Indiana part of Chicagoland and this new culture was quite alien to me.

        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?



  1. I have never tasted butter milk, I don't know if we sell it but will keep my eys open when shopping to see if there is any about.

    Happy Butter Milk day.

  2. I have never had buttermilk and from this post I am not sure I would ever try it.

    As hard as I rack my brain I can't at this moment think of a food I hated but had to acquire or develop a taste for.

    Since I have never given buttermilk a thought before this morning I haven't equated it with anything.

    But thanks to you I think I will stick with "spoiled, curdled milk like Arlee Bird did."

  3. butter milk (or as we call it here yoghurt - because it's liquid in these regions) is one of the most popular kinds of food in Southern and Eastern Europe so I'm always surprised when I see that you don't really have it in your shops and in your diet. It's not a secret that butter milk and kefir are extremely good for your health especially for the immune system and digestive organs. This is why people who drink these things every day usually live up to being 100 years old :)

  4. ps I forgot to say that since I'm a vegetarian I put butter milk in all my cakes instead of eggs because it's a brilliant natural replacement for eggs.

  5. Sorry, don't think I could stomach buttermilk.
    I used to hate mushrooms, but now I like them!

  6. I have only used buttermilk for baking. I'm not sure I'd dare take a swig.

  7. My Dad used to LOVE buttermilk. When I was a child, he talked me into trying it. I hated it and still to this day won't try it again.

    I didn't like brocolli or green beans and love them now. But...

    Buttermilk??? eww.

  8. Wonderful story...I've never tried buttermilk and have no cravings for it.
    Once I could not handle spicy foods or hot sauce, but now that I've gotten older, I crave hot wings and hot sauce on my pizza!

  9. I can't get buttermilk past my nose but I do use it for baking especially in one favorite sugar cookie receipe.

  10. Yvonne -- I would imagine that buttermilk is available in the UK, but they may call it something else there.

    Gregg -- Don't knock it til you try it! Once you get past the taste, it's not too bad.

    Dezmond-- Buttermilk, kefir, and yoghurt are all pretty much related, but there are slights differences in the way they are made and the taste. At least that's true in the US. But now that you mention it I have heard of the healthful benefits of all of these. Maybe drinking buttermilk will make up for all of the bad eating habits I have. Never heard of using buttermilk as an egg substitute, but it certainly makes sense.

    Alex -- My wife hates mushrooms even though she refuses to try them. I think she has an irrational fear of them.

    Liza -- C'mon, try it, you'll like it.

    Teresa -- I think buttermilk tends to be more of an "adult beverage"--not something that goes over well with most kids I'd say. I felt similarly about peas and lima beans. I discovered it was mostly a matter of preparation. When done right these vegetables can be absolutely delicious.

    Rae-- My sister is similar to you. I was shocked a few years ago to see her using hot sauce and eating spicy food. She used to hate it and now she seems to crave it.

  11. Susan -- the smell is part of the befuddlement of buttermilk. I guess the smell is another aspect that one has to adapt to. I know there are all kinds of good things to be made from buttermilk.

  12. Are you having cravings for a buttermilk moustache Lee?
    Yes I used to hate strong black coffee. Now I love decent fresh ground coffee and can drink espresso.I used to drink tea with sugar now I love tea without it. I find it takes about a week to change such habits with persistence & conviction. Cravings suggest a need for those nutrients in your diet. :O)

  13. I grew up in a family that did the buttermilk with cornbread thing, but never liked it myself. YUCK!! I think most people try things and if it's nasty, don't push through until they start to like it. I'm quite impressed that you could do that.

    I used to not like fish, but like it okay now. I still don't eat it very often, though.

    Have a great day!

  14. Honestly, I've never purchased buttermilk. Even in recipes requiring buttermilk, I'll sour the milk instead with vinegar to get the same effect. I used to hate peas, but now like them very much but rarely have a 'craving' for them!

  15. I have never had buttermilk. Or experience latter on liking a food. I usually have my mind set if I will like a food or not

  16. Madeleine -- I wore a mustache for nearly forty years. Then when it turned white, in photos it always looked like I had a buttermilk mustache so I shaved it off. No cravings for buttermilk mustaches here. I too don't mind black coffee these days, although I still usually have it with cream and sugar.

    Lisa -- I think often as we get older we are more willing to try things that we wouldn't try in our youth. I've always liked fish and would like to eat it more than I do. I need the brain food.

    Lynn -- Vinegar in milk sounds weird, but then again the taste of buttermilk is kind of weird when you're not accustomed to it. I rarely crave peas, but I sure do like them when they are fixed well and not all yucky mushy like can peas when they're overcooked.

  17. Asia -- My wife will do that too. There are certain foods that I like that she will absolutely refuse to try. The way I see it is how do you know you won't like it if you don't try it. I've heard that you need to try something at least 7 times before you develop a taste for it.

  18. I'm allergic to milk and I don't like the taste, hence I'm not really a big fan of buttermilk, either.

  19. I'm still stuck on the fact that your friend crumbled potato chips into it. He sounds like someone straight out of My Strange Addiction

  20. Only use buttermilk in cooking. Don't care for it alone.

    I hated cooked carrots as a kid. Now I love them. Turnips, too.

  21. I tried buttermilk once as a kid and thought it was the most foul thing anyone had ever convinced me to put in my mouth.

    After this post, I'm sort of curious and almost want to try it again.

    I used to hate: onions, peppers, anything spicy, tomatoes, spinach, green beans, raspberry flavored anything, and olives. Now I like (or at least tolerate) all of that and so much more.

  22. Golden Eagle -- does that mean no ice cream as well? That would be horrible.

    Lisa -- If you think of it though potato chips crumbled into buttermilk is really not that much stranger than pouring milk over dry cereal.

    M Pax -- I won't say that I "love" them, but I do like cooked carrots and turnips better now that I'm an adult.

    Karen -- So now it's time to add buttermilk onto your list.

  23. That is a really weird thing to drink with those burritos. I remember when you would drink buttermilk, but I would never try it... I still don't think I will.

  24. Lee I have in my fridge right now a 500ml carton of buttermilk that I'm going to add to 500g self raising flour. A bit of salt and grated cheese mixed in and into the oven and hey presto Bread. Buttermilk is something that is consumed in this country by most "black" people, it's sort of one of their staple foods like maize meal. Personally I cant stand the stuff but it does make great bread though.
    I've never been a fussy eater but there is one thing that I can't eat and that's canned asparagus otherwise almost anything goes.
    A great post, I like the sounds of your relationship with Fred, he sounds like someone I would get on with.
    God bless you my friend.

  25. "Never heard of using buttermilk as an egg substitute, but it certainly makes sense."

    yes, yogurt, butter milk and even some vinegar can used in certain quantities can replace eggs in cakes since they create the similar chemical processes in the oven and tie the whole mixture. Cakes done with them are much much softer than the ones with eggs and they stay fresh longer.

  26. My mother used to drink buttermilk, and eventually I developed a liking for it, but only when I was older.

    I had the same response as you did Lee when I was first introduced to the beverage.

    I generally drink it plain, and now that you've devoted your post to buttermilk, I'm going to pick some up at the store this afternoon. It's been a long time since I've had it, and I've got a craving!

    Ah... the power of suggestion. Here's to you and Fred! ;-)

  27. Emilee -- Go on, try it! You might like it! Well, probably not.

    Geoff -- The bread sounds pretty good. Canned asparagus can be pretty mushy and weird tasting, but I've heard that it's really good for you. I ate a whole can by myself not too long ago.

    Dezmond -- I rarely do any baking, but one day I may have to try buttermilk substitution.

    Paula -- Your comment made me laugh. Enjoy your buttermilk and live long!

  28. Yuck, no I don't drink buttermilk.

    As for foods that I used to hate but now like, the only thing I can really think of is pork chops and it turned out that my mom just cooked them poorly, way to brown and dried out.

  29. Did I know you once lived in Maryville? When? Where?

  30. Carol -- Often the preparation of a food has a whole lot to do with our early impressions of it. If a food is poorly prepared or weirdly prepared it can cause us to have an aversion to it until we taste it when it is prepared well.

    Debbie -- I think we've exchanged this thought before, but I first moved to Maryville in 1966 and lived there (or at least used it as my home address) until 1991. My mother and other family members still live there. I go to visit at least once a year.

  31. r-LEE-boid ~
    My Pa used to say that one of the best drinks on a hot day was ice-cold buttermilk. So I kind of grew up with it. I can certainly understand why many people would think it foul smelling and foul tasting, but I like it quite a bit.

    Now, I'll admit that I've never really thought of it as something to drink while eating anything. That is is to say, drinking it while eating a burrito strikes me as a strange combination. And, in fact, the idea of drinking buttermilk while eating ANYTHING doesn't appeal to me. Buttermilk is so thick and rich that it seems like a meal unto itself.

    Perhaps twice a year I will get a real craving for buttermilk and will feel compelled to go right out and by a quart of it. This is probably a sign that my body is low on some nutrient provided by buttermilk, and so the body begins to crave what can supply it with the needed vitamin or mineral. (Our bodies are "smart" that way.)

    Back in my serious drinking days, buttermilk was something I often turned to on mornings when I awoke with a hangover (which was often). Buttermilk is so thick that I found it would coat the stomach and help soothe the nausea of "hangover stomach".

    Now one last thing: I couldn't help noticing that you posted a picture of KNUDSEN'S Buttermilk. That is, in my opinion, UNQUESTIONABLY the BEST buttermilk on the market!

    In my lifetime, I have tried countless different brands of buttermilk in various different states and found that Knudsen's is by far THE BEST! In fact, I will go so far as to say that Knudsen's Buttermilk is one of the things I most miss since moving away from California. (You can't find it here in Phoenix.) And every time I visit my hometown of L.A., I ALWAYS make it a point to buy a quart of Knudsen's Buttermilk - even if I'm only in town for a single day!

    No other brand that I have found has the little "chips" of butter in their buttermilk that one finds in the Knudsen's brand. Consider yourself fortunate to be able to walk into any grocery in your area and find Knudsen's Buttermilk on the shelf. For me, that is a special treat reserved only for times when I am on vacation in SoCalLand.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  32. Knudsen's is the only brand that I've seen carried in the Ralph's grocery where I stop. I haven't looked for buttermilk in any other stores since if I get my craving I head directly toward Ralph's since I know they carry it.

    Not sure what nutrient that buttermilk supplies that couldn't be just as adequately supplied by something else. I think my craving just stems from timing, desire for the taste, and a go along with something I plan on eating. Couldn't tell you for sure, but it's strange how certain cravings come about.

    So now when we get together we'll have to binge on Grand Marnier and then drink buttermilk the next morning in order to appease our hangovers. Hmm-- I don't know.

  33. r-LEE-boid ~
    Well, I'm sure there is no nutrient in buttermilk that couldn't be just as adequately supplied by something else. I think it's just that the body knows what it's seriously lacking at the moment and knows where it can be acquired in some form that is already agreeable to the palate of the person in question.

    It might also be that it's the partcular ratio of various nutrients in a certain type of food that brings about peculiar cravings for something in particular every once in awhile.

    Everyone has experienced this at times - a sudden inexplicable craving for something without any conscious knowledge of why the craving has manifested - and it MUST be satisfied or it will persist in the person's mind until it is addressed.

    That this is some subconscious urge brought about by brain activity in response to some nutritional lack is not just some crazy idea that I myself dreamed up; I've read where some doctors and nutritionists explain these strange and sudden cravings in just this way. And it would certainly seem to make sense.

    I might be chronically low on Potassium and suddenly have an odd urge to eat bananas. That's not to say that I can't get Potassium from other food sources, nor even to say that bananas are the best source of Potassium compared to all other foods (they're not), but just that my brain knows I really like bananas and so getting me to eat some by initiating a craving will more likely be successful than if the brain tried to urge me to eat something containing more Potassium but that I don't like nearly as well as bananas.

    The bizarre food cravings that some pregnant women experience have also been explained by numerous people of the biological sciences as a response to some nutritional lack that the developing baby in the womb should have fulfilled at that particular moment.

    We are very, very complex machines, Brother, created by a very, very brilliant Designer!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  34. This is some interesting thought and I would agree. However, I don't know that there is any nutritional explanation when I get cravings for certain candies or other sweets. That is purely psychological I think.
    Now pass me a banana--my potassium's a bit low. And while you're at it toss me a Reese's Cup.

  35. I love buttermilk. Drinking a glass right now! It is also great with hot right out of the oven crumbled up corn bread.

    Lately, I have been craving buttermilk. I found this post in a google search of "why am I craving buttermilk". Buttermilk has tons of nutritive properties. And I think I will go pour me up another ice cold glass of... buttermilk. :-)


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