The Lighter Side

Sour Milk

Almost anyone who has lived overseas in the two-thirds world will have stories on at least three subjects. These will include misadventures in regard to airplanes flown, toilets used (more later about this one), and food eaten. There is an old overseas worker’s rhyme which goes something like, “Where He leads me I will follow. What He feeds me I will swallow.”

Our boys have been good troopers as they have seldom complained, while growing up in Africa, of the long distances traveled over rocky terrain, mats on the floor’s on which they slept, or food eaten by hand which you will never find even in fast food restaurants. Actually we are all hopelessly warped a little bit as our family reminisces about the foods we miss in sub-Saharan Africa.

But our youngest will never attempt to drink Maasai milk again.

Now this is perfectly understandable once you learn the ingredients of such a well-loved drink by these wonderful people. The Maasai love their soured cow’s milk. This drink is a blend of sour milk, a little cow urine as a preservative, along with some blood from the cow. This concoction is contained in a long red gourd from which one drinks. Predictably , the first time we went to visit the Maasai they kindly offered us their favorite drink, allowing us Westerners to drink their delicacy from a glass rather than a gourd.

Now here is my secret to drinking unpalatable drinks. Do not take tiny sips! If what you are given to drink is counter to your taste buds, don’t sip, but down the whole thing in one huge swallow.

Our youngest son was five years old and he felt left out from drinking the Maasai milk. I said to him, “You don’t want to drink this.” He said, “I want to drink this.” “You don’t want to drink this.” “I want to drink this!” This litany went on for about ten times back and forth, until his mother, my wife, said, “Let him drink the milk.” I gave her my special look which communicates, “This is not going to work out well” while we passed the Maasai milk to our youngest son. He took one sip of this special milk and, as it hit his taste buds, he spewed the milk out hitting us and the Maasai elders standing nearby!

Twenty years later we have still not been invited back to that village.