A Fresh Milk Renaissance in Lima

So far, from a few years ago where “fresh milk” was a childhood memory, or a thing one got in the country, there has been an renaissance of fresh milk here in Lima. I have had a dickens of a time explaining in some places that I was looking for fresh milk — not cold milk. But, Lima is beginning to get milky! There are now four brands of fresh milk… the stuff that expires and goes bad within a few days… you recall? Most milk here is shelf stable UHT and sold in bags or boxes. So far there are four types of fresh milk available (all since that day in 2014, when I saw it for the first time).

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Milk and yogurt. From happy cows.

Vacas Felizes: translates to happy cows. This organic milk can be bought at the bio-feria, farmers’ markets, and a few shops.

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Yogurt, but the bottles are the same for the milk.

Danlac: owned by the mega-company, Gloria, but they have a great publicity campaign. The bottles are old fashioned and I see the bottles being reused all the time.

Plusa: sold in plastic bottles with a red cap.

And then another brand also in a glass bottle with a black and white cow pattern on the bottle. This one is not so good. But, I’m happy it’s here.

Now, I’m just waiting for the arrival of fresh, delicious cream, in liquid form, without sugar added. There is some cream to be had, but it’s not fresh sweet cream. Or clotted cream, Devon cream, or creme fraiche, skyr, actual thick full-fat Greek yogurt, or quark… but I digress.

Milk and Dairy Products in Bogota

Fresh milk!
The Alpina dairy.

Colombia is so green and there are many cows so I expected the dairy products to be amazing. When I first got here, I’d go to Carulla and admire the rows and rows of dairy products. But, then I realized that most of the dairy products were various yogurt drinks. I like yogurt drinks but I really love fresh milk. Carulla does have two brands of fresh milk (and someone, a birdie, told me that on Tuesdays, they carry a third brand) in full-fat, low-fat, and lactose free.

Cows in winter.
Fresh milk?

On one of the weekend adventures, I made a point of visiting the “Alpina Lecheria” in Sopo, as I had been told that this was a good place to visit. As we approached the dairy, there was a traffic jam — all traffic coming out of the dairy! Higher up on the hill, the large steel tanks glinted like giant sized milk containers. Sadly, there was no tour of the dairy, no lines of cows chewing their cud, and no Heidi with braids. The main attraction was the outlet shop selling dairy products, ice cream, sandwiches, and gift baskets of dairy products. In front of the store, hundreds of people sat on the grass enjoying their dairy.

I went in the store. I looked for the fresh milk. I found long life milk. No fresh milk. I asked an employee for the fresh milk. He lead me to the same milk that I had just looked at. Long life milk. Expiration date in April. I told him that I was looking for milk that would go bad in a few days, not in three months. He told me that I needed to go to the countryside if I wanted fresh milk. Not sure if he thought I should find someone milking a cow…

The dairy outlet.
The dairy outlet.

Juice with Milk or Water?

In Colombia, the hot chocolate is usually made with water and the fruit juice can be made with milk. Colombia is famous for its fruit and many are served as juice. Almost every restaurant offers fresh juice and when you order it, they will ask you how you want it. For strawberry juice, I usually order it “en leche” which is “in milk.” The juice with milk reminds me a bit of a mango lassi. If the juice is tart, I usually order it in water.

Frothy juice at Andres Carne de Res restaurant.
Frothy juice “en leche” served in a bowl at Andres Carne de Res restaurant.

The Sweet Tastes of Bangladesh

Mishti is the word for sweets. To say that Bangladeshis love them would be an understatement. Many cultures love sweets but the Bangladeshis more than love them. They are in love with them.

Sweets being sold on the streets.
Sweets being sold on the streets.

There are some basic mishti that they love. At any celebration boxes of “rosh gulla” will appear. These are dough balls soaked in sugar water till they have a sandy sticky texture. At weddings and on the street, you will see “jallaby” being deep fried and then soaked in sugar water. At homes, you will be offered “mishti doi” which is sweetened yogurt served in a clay dish made specifically for this custardy yogurt dish. Sometimes, you will be offered “pithe” which are a less sweet hardtack style biscuit. Or you may be offered “rasgulla” or “reshmallai” which is boiled milk formed into sweet balls. The ones in Bangladesh are the size of marbles and the ones in India are the size of golf balls.

Bangladeshis also eat cake. They like their cake to have a thin frosting, not the thick crests of butter cream frosting seen on most American cakes.

In my very informal survey of the sweet tastes of Bangladesh, I have discovered that Bangladeshis love chocolate. Chocolate is exotic. Peanut butter cups are also popular and exotic. Caramel is only slightly popular and mint is not at all.