During my post-college jaunt around Europe, I remember being appalled that people would buy milk that was not refrigerated. And that it was very common to drink UHT milk, was even more shocking. It just didn’t seem right.
After having lived in VT for 14+ years, I feel like I arrived in France with a big milk chip on my shoulder. “Pas d’UHT,” was my chant at the grocery store on every visit. So being the good Vermonter that I consider myself to be, I skipped the UHT aisle and went right for the fresh stuff. The bottles here are not that big (and they’re really expensive), so rather than walking out of the store as I would in VT with 2 gallons of fresh milk, I would end up with 10 smaller bottles in my cart. And I stood out like an even more MAJOR oddity in the checkout line. Try explaining the need for that much fresh milk to the cashier in broken French. I dare you.
But one recent day, our milk dreams came to an end. It would seem that whatever machine they use to separate the milk from the cream had broken and nobody bothered to tell the customers. All the milk we were buying started to have giant chunks of solid-ish cream in it, which completely grossed the kids out. My attempts to explain to the kids that they should be happy to have giant chunks of “real cream!” in their cereal didn’t go over so well.
After a bit, it seemed like the farmer fixed her machine and we were finally back on track with our milk. And then a French food workers strike happened. I was suddenly mentally transported back to DC in the mid 1990s when we used to shop at our beloved neighborhood store nicknamed the “Soviet Safeway.” Suddenly, there was no cold food at the Carrefour. No cheese, no yogurt, no butter (gasp!) and no milk! What’s a milk snob to do? Answer: Wander sheepishly to the UHT aisle and find the snobbiest UHT milk available.
Enter Bio (organic) Lait! I have to say, it’s pretty darn good and much easier to buy because it comes prepackaged in sets of 6. Although the strike is finally over, we’re sticking with this stuff and feeling very French. No more milk drama for us.