I was first alerted to the gathering storm about permeate by my friend Louisa. She is an American who has lived most of her life in France, but she is, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit of a hippy. As such she is interested in matters of nutrition and the evils of modern food processing, and sent me an article about a substance which, at that stage, hardly anyone had heard of, but the first rumblings of a controversy were starting in Australia and the global nutrition emailing lists.
fromage de chevre from my laitiere.
and referred to in our house as 'emergency milk'.
Luckily, here in France, I have access to raw whole unhomogenised milk that is delivered to me twice a week by the farmer herself. We don't consume huge amounts of milk - about 3 litres a week. Until I mentioned this consumption level to various friends and family, I thought this was quite a lot of milk, but I am astounded by how much milk the tea drinking Brits get through! Still, I imagine we consume more milk than French couples of our age. We have milk in a cup of coffee and some cereal most days, and regular doses of homemade custard. Lots of French people think of milk solely as something you make riz au lait (rice pudding) with, and would feel distinctly queasy at the thought of drinking it, even in coffee. That's why French households habitually buy UHT milk - the slightly caramelised taste is perfect for puddings, and it just becomes a store cupboard ingredient, like cans of tomatoes (and in French homes, instant mashed potato flakes, but that's another story).
My laitiere (milk woman) tells me that she has less and less demand for the raw milk, but she isn't planning to cease offering it. The few French people who buy it are mainly elderly and don't shop much at supermarkets so they don't have access to the UHT milk. Their solution is to buy the raw milk and immediately boil it. We, on the other hand, recklessly, and with no regard for the myriad of possible diseases and bacteria, consume it straight from the plastic bag.