“There’s no point crying over spilled milk.”

There’s no point crying over spilled milk, or so the idiom goes.

Actually, I did just that on a Monday in March.

March 2016

I had never been a keen milk drinker. As a black Americano advocate with a strong appreciation for Green and Black’s 85% cocoa Dark Chocolate, milky water vaguely infused with PG Tips was, quite literally, far from my cup of tea. Whilst I could happily munch my way through a cream tea which consisted of more jam and cream than scone, having milk ‘neat’ was never a particularly appealing prospect.

This indifference to milk and other forms of dairy, unless sandwiched between two cakes, dolloped in an ice-cream cone or topping a pizza at Zizzi, made it easy to completely eliminate dairy from my diet. Justified by a pursuit for clearer skin as dairy was ‘hard for the body to digest’ and facilitated by a love of experimental cooking, I drank tea black or blended with Soya milk, exchanged butter for coconut oil and accumulated a collection of nut milks that would have sent a squirrel into overdrive.

March 2017

Fast forward a year and my ‘divorce from dairy’ had “escalated” to the extent that it  had a similarly destructive emotional impact as a literal divorce… i.e. It left me devastated. It was this March, approximately n days ago that I was shackled, not with litigation fees or the prospect of having one less bell to answer, but with an eating disorder diagnosis.

Within minutes of the terms ‘Anorexia Nervosa’ and ‘Orthorexia’ erupting into the silent Specialist’s office, I had been signed off from University, showered by a fusillade of blood tests requests and referrals and struck with a strict instruction of immediate ‘bedrest’. However, it was being handed my new diet plan which was the most daunting part of my unconditional committal to ‘recovering’.

Amongst all sorts of forgotten and forbidden foods, there lay the devil himself. MILK. And he was everywhere!

That cheeky, little oik had wormed his way into every eating opportunity my diet plan demanded. I was even consigned to a life of Tea/Coffee- with milk (aka. ruined). My hopes of having enjoyable meals where milk could be tolerated in small amounts- such as in Porridge or muesli – were dashed by the sight of the sheer quantity I was required to drink.  I reached the end of the list and noticed one final instruction  tucked away at the bottom of the page, as if hoping to go unnoticed: Milk (a glass- 250ml).

The thought of drinking an entire glass of pure milk – opaque, imposing and as white as the printed paper in my hands – was utterly terrifying.

I would have to drink a pint of milk a day. One whole pint every day, just under half of which needed to be drunk in one sitting – a prospect that crippled me. This was wasn’t simply a protest against my diagnosis; my life-long lack of affinity for lait was outraged.

Internal arguments aside, that evening I stood at my kitchen counter with a milk bottle in one hand trying to ­­weigh out exactly 250ml of milk as instructed by my diet plan. The combination of an emotionally-drained, sleep-deprived brain and eyes that had been made red and sore through the shedding of many tears that day, made completing this task successfully just shy of impossible. At around attempt number four and wound up by scale readings that fluctuated infuriatingly between 248 and 252…I snapped. It wasn’t pretty and some dignity was lost, but at least I took the milk down with me.

I usually like to consider myself a reasonable person and reasonable people don’t reach emotional breaking point over, nor seek pleasure in, the spilling of inanimate liquids…I shouldn’t have taken my feelings of futility and frustration out on the milk. The milk wasn’t there to hurt me but to help me.

On reflection, it was the inanimate scale’s fault anyway!

Amid all my milk-bashing (literal and figurative), I had forgotten the real purpose of my reunion with Dairy- to help me recover. Its renewed presence was not to fill me with fear but with the nutrients I had deprived myself of for so long.

Suck it up- (preferably with a straw).

Whilst I could accept that milk-drinking was now a permanent and beneficial addition to my life, it still didn’t make the stuff any easier to swallow. It was at this moment that my sister, Cat, suggested that I started a blog:  a fun, simple venture into which I could channel my creative energy and document my endeavours to make milk that bit more bearable and , dare I say it, fun. Cat had always said that it would be my culinary curiosity, love of food and pursuit of flavour – the traits that made me a ‘foodie’ in the first place – that would get me through this rough patch.

Pastures new* (The source of cow-related puns are endless!)

So here we are. This is my attempt to mend relationship with dairy the only way I know… by eating, thinking about and googling food. Well, they do say ‘know your enemy!’.

My focus will be the forbidden foods: hot chocolates, milks, shakes, coffee, frappes, gelato, yogurt, cheese and porridge made with cow’s milk. Anything dairy-based is open for discussion and potential blog post material!

I shall be experimenting flavoured milks, too. I will tackle ‘tahini milk’, promptly discard ‘worchester sauce milk’ and maybe uncover a few hidden gems along the way. Can Cumin and Cinnamon Milk genuinely rival the Turmeric Latte? Is there really such a thing as too many dessert- inspired drinks? It’s big questions like these that I’ll be hoping to answer, right here.

Hopefully, this blog will be as much for my readers as it is for me and perhaps all of us can learn a thing or two along the way….

For example, have you ever wondered where you can grab the best hot chocolate on the high-street? Can you really profess that you know your Macchiatos from your Ristrettos? Is Organic milk really worth the expense? Not to worry, I’m here to find all this out for you!

I will power through the times spent scrubbing burnt cow juice off my microwave, marginally adjusting ingredient quantities for the perfect combination (with better scales I promise!), and cursing at yet another inconvenient Windows 10 update all so you don’t have to. Perhaps, as a result of my musings and modifications, I might find that milk isn’t so bad after all.

Have no fear, Ladies and Gents, ‘Milk Maid’ is at your service.

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