All for the love of melamine
When the melamine issue was flashed in the media, we got scared. This is mainly because of my little granddaughter, who we were desperately trying to wean away from mother's milk to the tinned variety. She, however, refused any tinned milk and actually never saw a bottle in her little life.
I kept on mumbling about wickedness of the people who had contaminated the milk with melamine in the vicinity of anybody I came across. I wanted to buy a cow so that my Sarah would have fresh milk when she visited us. My cook heard me and asked me what was wrong in having it as everyone was having it too. Then one day he heard someone complaining in one of the shops where he regularly buys things. He got quite scared and asked me if he could buy a cow instead. He wanted to sell us the milk, he said, at Tk 50 a litre instead of the regular Tk 48 a litre. He argued that his cow's milk would be very pure.
He had seen a cow a million years back, which gave a whole bucketful of thick, frothy milk. Now he wanted this cow very badly. So the owner of the fat, black cow was contacted over the ubiquitous mobile phone and the price for cow and its calf was fixed at twenty thousand takas. My cook was very pleased with the bargain and kept on telling my mother and me that we would have to buy from him. Accordingly a room behind our garage was prepared for the grand arrival of her majesty. It should be noted that my mother and I paid for all the preparations!
Finally on the D Day, her royal highness arrived with her little princess riding a tempo instead of a Rolls Royce! Oh! What a shock my cook got on seeing her! The nadush nudush cow that he had dreamt of was a dream all right! This cow was old, thin, and bony and it was dirty and dusty. My cook was very disappointed. We all consoled him and advised him to give them a good bath and provide her with nutritious food. I went one step ahead and called the calf Tara. And the cow became Tara'r ma.
As luck would have it, all the grass that we wanted to get rid of had vanished. Instead, our whole field was strewn with dried tufts of brown grass. That did not seem to deter our cook. He went looking for fresh grass everyday in the field behind our house.
The next day the cow was milked and oh... I had forgotten how original cow's milk tasted and looked. One boil brought about a thick layer of yellow cream. I, who drink my coffee black and sugarless, was hooked to strong tea boiled in fresh milk and sugar. In fact I became addicted to it. And my husband had his share of freshly made chini pata doi. I flaunted my newly learnt book keeping skills and kept an account of the milk that my mum and I bought. But in a few weeks time, the much hyped milk production started dwindling. And one day I found the cook touching Tara'r ma's feet and begging her to give some milk!
After the melamine-in-milk controversy that has frightened and dismayed every mother late last year, the hunt began for melamine-free alternatives to powdered milk for infants to avoid the risk of contamination. Our contributor Fahmeena Nahas even went so far as to acquire a cow so that her grandchild could have a trusted source of milk.
Now, while a bovine in the backyard isn't a feasible option for everyone, cow's milk is probably the most viable alternative available to us right now.
A good source of calcium and other essential nutrients, milk is an important part of the diet. It helps develop healthy bones and aids the fight against osteoporosis, although older adults should consider sticking to skimmed milk. Cow's milk can be added to tea for that wonderful flavour; malai cha is another fun option. Those who can't stand the smell can mask it with a dash of chocolate, vanilla essence or coffee, or blend it with fruits to enjoy milkshakes. The high levels of protein in cow's milk might be difficult for infants to digest; for them, the best option is still mother's milk. Another option for vegetarians and the lactose intolerant is soy milk, which is now available in most superstars around the city.
By Sabrina F Ahmad