Sunday, December 6, 2015

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Unusual Yogurts/Dairy Products

     Yogurt is, of course, a very pedestrian, common food, at least where I live.  However, there are some twists on it that I was not aware of.  This was brought home to me recently, when I visited an alternative, health food grocery in Williston, VT.  There I was able to pick up a few of these new ones.  Additionally, I saw a dairy drink that I'd heard about but never had a chance to sample--kefir.  And, while I was thinking about dairy and yogurt I recalled another one I've tried--lassi.
     Let's get some background.  Kefir is a fermented milk drink which originated in the Caucasus Mountain region in Eurasia.  Essentially, it involves putting kefir grains/cultures into regular milk.  This causes most of the lactose to be converted into lactic acid.  Meaning that lactose intolerant people can usually enjoy kefir without problems.  Kefir can be used to make sourdough bread, as a buttermilk substitute in cooking, or as an additive to cold borscht.  Sometimes, being fermented, it's mildly alcoholic.
    Australian yogurt differs from regular yogurt in that it's unstrained, and is typically made using whole milk.  As a result, it usually has a higher protein content.  Often it's infused with honey as well.
     Lassis are a traditional yogurt drink from India.  They're made with yogurt, water, and then either spices (for the savory type) or fruit (for the sweet kind).  Chaas is another type of Indian dairy beverage. And one kind of lassi, the bhang type, has the liquid derivative of cannabis.  So for that one I guess you have to check your local marijuana laws.
     As usual, I'll score these based on the U.S. scholastic system--"A" for excellent, "B" for good, "C" for average, "D" for unsatisfactory but barely passing, and "F" for failing, with pluses and minuses as necessary.

1) Lifeway (Illinois) low fat kefir--pomegranate flavor.  No alcoholic content listed:  B-.  Pretty good, but not great.  Fruity overtones.  Tasted like a slightly sour yogurt drink.  I do like the pitchline on the bottle--"The Champagne of Dairy."

2) Wallaby creamy Australian style yogurt, lime flavor (despite the style, it's made in California):  C+.  Thin, almost watery.  Slight lime taste.  Okay, but not as good as most other yogurts.

3) Maple Hill Creamery (New York) drinkable yogurt--maple flavor.  Appeared to be a slightly thinner, yogurt beverage:  F.  Terrible.  I usually like sour tastes, but this was way too much.  It almost tasted spoiled (thankfully it wasn't).  I didn't detect the slightest hint of maple, or any sweetness.  A drain pour.

4) Lassis.  I've had dozens of these, as I have them pretty much every time I go to a Indian restaurant.  I like mango lassis the best, but the other flavors I've tried were tasty, too:  A+.  Lassis are delicious--really top notch.  Like a yogurt milkshake.  They taste like awesome.

     So there you have it.  I would definitely advise against the Maple Hill drinkable yogurt, but would recommend kefir and Australian style yogurt with mild enthusiasm.  And I can't recommend lassis enough.
     I am curious to try more kefir, especially the alcoholic version.  Plus, Iceland has a different take on yogurt, too.  Don't know if/when I'll have the opportunity to try this one, but I can hope.

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