Friday, May 27, 2011

What is in our milk????

Have you ever wondered what is in our milk? Apparently, different additives are added depending on the source. Milk was something I hardly cared about until I had my children. Once I weaned my older son off formula and switched him to regular cow's milk, I started to wonder if it was really safe for him.

A friend of mine once mentioned that her milk (out of a packet from a common well-known source) did not spoil for over 2 days. Yes, she did store it in a fridge but this will not be the case for natural cow's milk bought directly from a farm or any other source.The process of sterilisation and pasteurisation destroys all living cells from the milk including the good bacteria that is meant to be beneficial. There is nothing left in the milk to make it go bad. It becomes a liquid that contains certain minerals that are beneficial to humans.

Also from all the rumours I have heard so far, other additives are added to packaged milk to make it more attractive to market and sell. One of the rumours says additives are added to make the milk look very white. Another one says additives are added to make the curds set faster and thicker. Most packaged milk products do not advertise as they are additive-free. I would seriously like to see someone come up with a product that says its additive-free. As long as questions are not asked, the milk companies don't feel the need to reveal the procedures they follow.

So what is the best source of milk? I personally feel that its best to buy from a source with whom you can establish a connection and clear all your doubts. If there is a milkman in your neighbourhood who has his own cows, he would be your best bet. He may be diluting the milk with water but he may not have the resources to add other harmful additives to the milk.

If you have access to a source who feeds the cows with organic feed and advocates less vaccines and hormones, then that is the best possible milk available. An organic milk source is one I wish I had and I would be the first one to support an endeavour like that in my neighbourhood.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Foodie is a term used to describe someone who has a special interest in food and drink. The word was coined for the first time in 1984 by Paul Levy and Ann Barr who used it in the title of their book - The Official Foodie Handbook. Foodie represents someone who shows a lot of interest in all things that revolve around food.

A great cook may not be a foodie. Also foodie is different from a Gourmet. A gourmet's tastes are very refined and they may not be interested in ordinary food. But for a foodie any good food is something of interest. A foodie will go through a lot of effort and trouble to find that one little joint that sells the best pani poori in Kolkatta, for example. Or the best Vada pav in Mumbai, or the best sundal on the beaches of Chennai.

I am a certified FOODIE. I love to cook, experiment with new food combinations, eat in good restaurants, shop for specific ingredients, scout local markets for food inspirations, watch cooking shows, flip through cook books in a book store, browse the net for authentic recipes and dream about food. I take pleasure in meeting other foodies and in sharing valuable information on where to buy what and where to eat in my town and when I travel.

For instance, I have travelled many kilometers from the confines of a resort in Kumarakom to a popular toddy shop that I once read about to try their local speciality - Karimeen Polichathu. I have travelled many a times in rickshaws in Kolkatta to savor the different chaats in different locales. I have made many trips to find places where they serve delicious non-fussy organic meals in lovely little spaces. Every quest to find good food has been an adventure. The food may be disappointing at times but the journey has always been satisfying.

There are many ways to find information on good food. There are food guides for most big cities these days. Trip advisor and other websites help in narrowing down your search based on reviews. Also food blogs give a good picture of the food scenario in many cities. It also helps when you talk to friends who travel and to the natives while traveling.

Food ingredient shopping is another fabulous experience. I love to visit local markets and ethinic food stores to source ingredients that are not available in regular departmental stores. Sometimes I discover new and fascinating ingredients which I try to incorporate in appropriate dishes. I remember how chatting with a fellow cooking class student once led me to finding an ingredient - Kaachum puli (coorgi) - I had been searching for many months. There was also a time during a market tour in Paris, we stepped into a grain store and found Celery salt which comes in handy while making bloody marys.

Any foodie will have many memorable stories to share with a fellow foodie. It was fun sharing some of my food adventures with you. I hope it inspires you to set out on your own food adventures.