Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Highlights of 2008: Got Milk?

According to my sources, fluent in Portuguese, this sign says "Milk from the foot of the cow."

In Brazil, while driving along any main highway, you might chance upon a roadside restaurant and store called Vaca Preta, which translates from the Portuguese meaning Black Cow. What makes the Black Cow different from, say a Steak-N-Shake in the United States, or a Happy Eater in the United Kingdom is that the Black Cow has a cow (not always black) in a pen in front of it. For a small fee, you can have the farmer on duty squeeze you off a glass of milk while you wait.

He'll even flavor it for you, if straight, still-warm-from-being-inside-the-cow, milk is not your thing.

We were stopping at Vaca Preta for lunch on our last day of a birding trip throughout southeastern Brazil. The restaurant inside was famous for its sausage sandwiches (not beef burgers??) and our guide, Paulo Boute, had been extolling their virtue all morning long. So we decided to eat first and watch the cow-milking action later.

Inside was a fire pit, smoking and sizzling, where they cooked the sausages, onions, bread, and melted the cheese for the sandwiches. This was a good sign. My heart always sinks when I walk into a roadside eatery, ravenous from a day of birding, only to find frozen burritos, pre-made sandwiches, and a microwave. This place was cooking real stuff on an actual fire—caveman style.

The fire pit at Vaca Preta.

The lunch was great and the sausage sandwich especially yummy and bad for you (as yummy things usually are).
One of the famous sausage sandwiches. Yes, they were really good.

Then it was time for the Milkmaster 3000 to do his thing. We went outside and gathered around the cow pen. A strong-armed farmer gave us a smile and a tip of his cowboy hat. Paulo ordered for himself and was a bit surprised and disappointed when the other four of us, all Americans, did not place orders, too. Now I am always up for trying anything, but something told me that unpasteurized milk right from a Brazilian cow, now matter how creamy and wonderful, might not be a healthy choice. In fact I was pretty sure I remembered reading on the U.S. State Department website covering travel to Brazil, a paragraph that said:

No matter how much Paulo teases and cajoles you,
DO NOT DRINK unpasteurized milk from Vaca Preta.

So, alas, I did not sample this South American delicacy. However I DID manage to make a short video of the experience to share with you. Here is the cow in her pen. She seemed content and had a lot of food and water, plus a compassionate milk squeezer.

And here is the aforementioned milker and milkee, shooting the frothy white milk right into Paulo's cup. Enjoy!

I can vouch for the authenticity of this video because I was there. And I would also like to say that the commentary you hear in the background was not from Bill of the Birds, or any of my fellow Americans. I'm just sayin'....

Got Milk?

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At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's gross, but I'm fascinated!
All hail Louis Pasteur!

At 10:06 PM, Blogger rmharvey said...

I could not resist posting a pointer to this over on roadfood.com.


At 11:06 PM, Blogger Mary said...

No way. That milk would never make a mustache on ME!

That sandwich is calling me.

At 10:29 AM, Blogger Rondeau Ric said...

I thought you pumped the tail to get milk.

Confirmation word wargo
nice sentiment for the last day of the year.

At 2:41 PM, Blogger Kathleen said...

I think you were brave to eat the sandwich! I'd have to be stranded and starving.

At 3:04 PM, Blogger Julie Zickefoose said...

Those are nice cow breastesses.

At 4:55 PM, Blogger Angela Queiroz said...

This post has been removed by the author.

At 4:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Éca!!! I'm a brazilian and I didn't know nothing about this. One day I will drink milk that way.
Hehe! Learning about my country with an alien...


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