Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I'll Just Watch You Eat Your Cheese, Thanks.

I’ve got it bad for cheese.

How can I explain this?  Kenyan cuisine features zero kinds of cheese.  So, when we go back the the US or South Africa to visit family, I look forward to cheese binging almost as much as seeing loved ones.  

On a recent visit to a South Africa Colin and I went to a grocery store to stock up on things we can’t get here in Kenya.  At some point Colin realized I was no longer next to him, looked back and found me completely transfixed, no comatose, by the cheese section.  I stood there ogling the whole array - the soft, the hard, the smokey, the stinky, the three, THREE!, kinds of brie, the cheddar cheese older than my children, the whimsical cheese stuffed with things like mango and ginger, etc…  You know the scene, Whole Foods goers.

Colin slowly walked up to me, bowed his head, placed a hand tenderly on my shoulder and asked if I’d like a moment.  Maybe a chair?  Some smelling salts?

“There are Just. So. Many.” I managed, practically wiping a tear from my eye.

“I know.” he whispered with the kind of reverence you’d give a devotee at a shrine, which was not, I should add, inappropriate.

Actually consuming said cheese is a whole different scene. The kind of scene that might end in someone telling me and the mozzerella to go “get a room.”

Come to mama...  
I once had a boyfriend who was a vegan.  He was a perfectly wonderful guy, but the thought of us NEVER being able to share a pizza was enough to make me consider ending the relationship.

I think you all are getting the picture.

In Busia, the small town where we used to live, the largest grocery store, carried one kind of cheese and only sometimes.  Picture the cheese that the government provides to elementary schools in economically depressed areas and prisons.  It was a nearly florescent orange cheddar that managed to sweat even in the plastic and smell like old socks after a few days.  But it was all we had so I would melt it on everything we ate.  

Now that we live in a relatively larger town, I can get a lot more variety.  There’s usually gouda, cheddar, paneer, mozzeralla and sometimes cottage cheese.  We’re still not in France here, so sometimes the gouda tastes like a cheap cheddar and the cottage cheese tastes like cow farts, but it’s a vast improvement in choice over Busia.  So, good news there.

Better news yet: We’re planning a trip to the states where I had planned a bacchanal of cheese consumption.  

Now, here’s the rub:  I just had a baby – cherub of a little guy – who for the most part behaves unimpeachably.  You know, sleeps a lot, smiles, poops not all that frequently.  But he does not let me consume milk products.  You heard right.  No more cheese for me.  

He’s damn cute so it’s hard to hold it against him. 
For the love of all that is holy, woman. Please stop eating dairy products.
And when I do “accidentally” consume some cheese, he gets so congested it’s like listening to an 80 year old life smoking asthmatic, which is kind of funny in a new born, but mostly it’s just heart breaking.  

I nursed my first for over 2 years (didn’t plan it, it just happened) and I don’t really have a firm plan on when I’ll quit nursing this one.   But if the cheddar cheese withdrawal gets too bad, I might have to throw in the towel.  I’m kind of kidding here.  But only kind of. 

Does anyone have any words of wisdom or advice?  Will someone please tell me he’s going to outgrow this relatively soon or recommend a cheese substitute that won’t make me gag. Recipes are also welcome…


  1. I too love me some dairy, and when my ped suggested that the eczema my infant was displaying could be related to the dairy in my diet, like a good mom, I ignored her! I just wrote about her subsequent milk allergy and recent freedom from it, however, I am no nursing role model.

    I do have friends who's infants had certain intolerances when first born, and gradually as they aged the babies were able to tolerate things like milk, caffeine, & citrus.
    Good luck!

    1. I'm going now to check out your post! And I hope to high heaven that he ages out of this soon like your friends kids.

  2. Such a cute little baby, Kim! Our allergist said I could keep dairy in my diet, even though our little guy is HIGHLY allergic to milk. I never could notice any changes in either of my boys because of what I ate. Does all dairy cause these symptoms or is it just cheese? I'm refusing to try fake cheese. Hopefully your son doesn't have a milk allergy and will outgrow this phase soon! :-) -Heddi

    1. I think it is all dairy, but I rarely drink milk and I've been able to find soy milk here to put in my coffee. It's just the cheese that's killing me. So your little guy can tolerate it when you eat cheese but not milk?!?

  3. Kim,

    Try eliminating both milk and cheese and see how Emmet does. Then re-introduce cheese - that may be less of an allergen because foods that are processed tend to be less of an allergen than those in raw forms. Then add the milk back in. Maybe he can tolerate it sometimes? The good news is he may grow out of it -- you did!



    1. I'll try it. But I accidentally ate a bunch of lasagne at a party and he was up all night sniffling. Then I mistakenly made some saag paneer (because I'm stupid and keep forgetting) and same result. So, how old were we when we outgrew our allergy? Apparently Matt had a bad milk allergy too.

    2. So, empirically, you have this figured out. Just about what an allergist would do. Memory fades, but I think it might have been 2 or 3. We fooled around with several formulas - soy Enfamil, Nutramgin - which was so expensive that Dad and I used to call it liquid gold. By the time we figured out the formula issue, the doctor said try regular milk. But then, we just limited it. I do remember cereal with apple juice for a while.

  4. Since dairy isn't on your daily menu, why not pump ahead for when you're planning to binge and then pump and dump as if you were out for a night of cocktails? :)

    1. Sounds like a lot of work and I hate pumping, but I'll definitely try it when I get back to the land of delicious cheese!

  5. Emmet, you gorgeous man!
    I don't suppose you can get soy or vegan cheeses there. Thankfully you can in Hong Kong because of the high concentration of vegan Buddhists here. I say thankfully because otherwise the selection is pretty woeful. And expensive! We pay the most usurious prices for the most basic "cheese" product like Kraft Singles, which have stickers on them saying "Imported from America!" KRAFT SINGLES! Joel doesn't love the soy cheeses so much and he'll sometimes travel to Hong Kong Island (as far as you can get from us) and drop half a month's salary on a small selection of nice cheese. I've learned to live without mostly. You must wean before your holiday, you just must! Then start back up again when you get back ;)
    PS The description of "cow farts" nearly made me spew, I can only imagine what it tastes like. Not worth it?

  6. You crack me up. I love cheese too and my esteem for you just increased tenfold to hear that you are living so well without it in your life.

    This might be my favorite piece of yours that I have read so far which is saying quite a lot, because I LOVED your mocking of the 50 Shades of Gray book.


  7. I have some friends from Kenya and I absolutely love the way they talk. Their accents are so distinct. I love it, love it. I have never thought of a life without cheese. I'd tear up at the sight of it, too! Oh, my goodness! Thanks for the laughs! Thanks for linking up with us over at #findingthefunny this week!

  8. My husband and I were introduced by friends b/c of our mutual dislike of cheese (we even had a site for a while that we don't update anymore) but even a non-cheese-lover can understand the longing you feel for... CHEESE

  9. I grew up in the midwest, where it's not a meal without a dairy product - and the first time I went to holland, when my hostess brought out the cheese & bread for breakfast, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I am feeling your pain, big time. Do they get lebneh in Kenya? Might be easier on him (it's closer to yogurt) - or goat cheeses? That baby is all kinds of cute - which is good, because it makes choosing between "baby" and "cheese" a (slightly) easier decision. How little an amount of cheese can you get away with that will satisfy you & not congest him? (And welcome to the mother-of-boys club, by the way. Hope you've thought about learning to play soccer/lacrosse/hockey/baseball...)