Saturday, January 3, 2009

A bag of milk

Now that I've been in Bs.As. for 6 weeks, things are starting to become more and more normal, so I'm trying to remember now, before I slip into a Buenos Aires state of mind, what is different.

How you buy Milk.

warm milk.
Yes, unrefrigerated milk exists here, so do unrefrigerated eggs (seriously and it's quite common too). I was very confused when I first saw unrefrigerated milk. "Is it powdered milk?" "No, there is liquid in there". Apparently, if you pasteurize and sterilize milk, it can sit on the shelf for quite some time.

A friend and I discussed this. We both found it so strange. She said it's like saying "you don't need to keep ice cream in the freezer. It just goes against what you believe is necessary".

(photo below: this milk is on a regular grocery store shelf, no where near refrigeration)

milk in a bag.
I can just imagine some Argentine house wife calling her husband and saying "hunny, on your way home, can you pick up a BAG of milk". Milk comes in a bag. If you buy it this way, you'll need a plastic milk holder that looks like a small pitcher; that is if you plan on keeping it in the fridge (which I believe once it's open you have to keep it in the fridge). "But how do you close the bag?". I don't have the answer to this one.




Anonymous said...

I arrived in BA a few days ago and the milk situation had me utterly confused. I know leche means milk but for some reason staring at the boxes of leche on the unrefrigerated grocery shelves, my American mind couldn't grasp that these were actually what I needed to buy. So, I never did. I kept meaning to ask someone or look it up online but I could only seem to remember when I was in the store facing that difficult choice of whether or not I should buy the warm box of leche. So, thanks for solving that mystery for me!

Anonymous said...

When we lived in Europe, particularly Central Europe, boxes of radiated milk and bags of fresh milk were the most common forms of packaging. It took a while to get used to the slightly different taste of the radiated boxed milk, but it lasts an awfully long time after opened, in the fridge, and we drank it for years with no apparent harmful effects. As for the bag fresh milk, it spoils quickly, but does taste more like milk. You can get a special pitcher to sit the bag in for the fridge, and we always just clipped off a corner of the bag to pour and sealed it with a clothes pin or any sort of snap clip. We have a sort of lock on fresh milk in easy pour cartons in the US. Radiated boxes and bags are more common elsewhere.

Sandra said...

The unrefrigerated milk is just like any other milk. What makes it special is the package that holds it. It is called "Tetra Pack", and it has 5 layers of insulation that keeps the milk fresh until the "use by" date (fecha de vencimiento, or "consumir antes de..."), that is why it is called "leche larga vida" (long-life milk). There is another milk with a similar package that lasts longer than the regular milk, but shorter than "larga vida", and has to be refrigerated all the time. Once opened, it has to be refrigerated just like regular milk and used within 3 days.
Dulce de leche can be kept out of the fridge too, even once opended.