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The Subtleties of 1% Milk

I can taste the difference between milk brands.

Let me rewind a little bit. I have always been a picky eater; it drives my poor parents up the wall. I cannot stand certain textures, I cannot handle sour foods, and I struggle to try things for fear of encountering a Bad Taste or something cooked in an unfamiliar way. I don’t enjoy it in the slightest; if I could be an adventurous eater, I would, but a new or unfamiliar taste that doesn’t fit my preferences “just so” can ruin an entire meal for me.

One of the “textures” that I can’t get past is soda. The bubbles in carbonated drinks are one of my worst taste nightmares. I’m never ready for them, and they distract me from the flavor of whatever I’m drinking, and each individual bubble is just another poke at my mouth.

The good news about this is that I don’t drink soda, and that’s a whole lot of junk I’m not putting in my body. The bad news is that I don’t drink much else, so I’m usually stuck with water, or if I can get it, 1-or-2% milk. (Whole milk and skim are two separate beasts for a different post).

After 23 years of drinking water, milk (sometimes chocolate), and occasionally those little packets of water flavoring (I like raspberry), I have developed enough of a palate for low-fat milk that I can taste subtle differences between them. This mostly shows up when switching between brands. Even when they’re in the exact same big plastic gallon bottle, I can tell when I’m drinking brand-name vs. generic, local milk.

This is not usually a helpful skill in life. I know that comes as a surprise, but the fact is that understanding the subtleties of 1% milk is an underappreciated art, one that is lost to the masses.

There is good news: it’s not entirely useless. The thing about being a picky eater and having a sensitive palette is that I have had to learn what I do and don’t like to a degree of detail that might seem a little bit ridiculous, and probably is. It did, however, motivate me to try and make my own food, because if you want something done right, you do it yourself.

Right now my cooking skills are pretty limited; I can grill a mean plate of shrimp, or chicken, or burgers, or turkey burgers, or veggies, or…

The point I’m getting at is that I only know how to grill things. And make pancakes, but that’s kind of the same thing.

But to my picky eaters or parents of them, I really do encourage you to try and get involved with your food. You may not be able to make a burger from scratch because of time constraints, but there’s still some things you can do, like:

  • Figuring out what brands of a specific food you like will make your life easier. (If you like the pricier stuff, maybe try to limit that specific thing if you’re on a budget.)
  • You like something? Try something similar! (Example: I love hamburgers, and I love turkey, so I tried making turkey burgers.)
  • Try a food you know you like cooked a different way. (Grilled instead of fried is a great place to start.)
  • TEXTURES. Learn to identify textures and which ones you like and dislike.
  • I know I already said this, but try cooking your own stuff if you can. Once you start getting the hang of it, you can start preparing for your friends or family if you’re so inclined. (I learned from the earlier experiment that I make the best turkey burgers).
  • You have friends who wanna eat out? Have a favorite restaurant and invite them. Social and safe for your palette.
  • If there’s something you really and truly cannot stand to eat, but really should, look up what it has that you need (example: fiber) and try to find other foods rich in that area to substitute it.
  • If all else fails, it’s hard to go wrong with your favorite foods. Don’t be ashamed of getting whatever you like on a night out – they’re supposed to be enjoyable, and you’re enjoying yourself.

These ideas are things I’ve picked up over a good 23 years of being annoyingly picky with my food – and trust me, nobody is more annoyed by picky eaters than themselves. It’s a nightmare. I wish I could just turn it off and dig into whatever’s put in front of me, but sometimes that texture or vegetable is too much to say anything to but “no”.

But hey, maybe I can get a gig as a milk taster.

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