Indian Notes: Skim Milk, Anybody?
by R. Saheb
Here is a perfect example of the loosey-goosey inaccurate attitude to knowledge prevalent in old cultures, here India. Their epistemology, if you will.
Like a respectable New Yorker, I began my trip to Bombay with a hunt for skim milk. It was like turning up a hornet's nest. "This is skim milk, with no fat", I was told by every vendor for every milk carton I perused. And they would have staked their reputation on it. When challenged they downgraded to "This has very little fat". Sill later, clutching at straws, they announced how everybody else referred to this particular item as 'skim milk'.
India produces the most milk in the world; 91,940,000 tonnes as compared to 80,264,510 tonnes produced by the US. But remember, there are over a billion Indians to consume this bounty. Dairy has always been big in the Indian culture, ever since, the Aryans migrated over 3000 years ago from the Caucasus Mountains along with their cows. Indians drink Water Buffalo milk. It has over 8% fat, compared to cow's milk which has 3.9% fat. Obese urban Bombayites who wish to lose weight, start drinking cow's milk under the impression that it is low fat milk. Comparatively speaking, it is. Speaking in absolute terms, it is not.
Another item masquerading as skim milk is 'tonal milk'. After spending over ½ hour online, browsing various dictionaries, agriculture sites and dairy companies, I haven't been able to come up with its definition. But staking my word (an educated guess actually), in the Indian fashion, I don't think it is skim milk.
Finally, I resorted to the good old (now obsolete) American method of 'Be American, Buy American'. I searched for supermarkets stocked with American goods, once a rarity in Bombay, and purchased the elusive skim milk. This time I did not wait to ask anybody if it really was skim milk, but relied in the integrity of the manufacturer when he announced it on the packaging.
R. Saheb lives in the New York City area.
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