Friday, 30 September 2016

An old friend returns. Not necessarily to the warmest of welcomes

When my wife got home from work today, she announced with gusto that, “we’re going to have Kefir again! Remember? Like when we were first together, back in the eighties?”

Beyond a doubt I should have reacted with enthusiasm. An old friend. A great source of all sorts of things that do lots of good for us, or so I’m assured. A reminder of our early years.

Oh, joy
What’s not to celebrate?

Sadly, I couldn’t summon up much excitement. From what I remember, Kefir produces almost inexhaustible quantities of a rather thin, watery and sour yoghurt.

Perhaps it wasn’t sour. More tasteless, come to think of it. Sour might have been an improvement. You know, whether it actually does you good or not, it tastes as though it ought to.

But that’s not the worst of it.

I could never really handle the fact that it’s a product that people describe as a “germ” and say it with pride. Don’t we usually try to combat germs? Why would we want these ones?

As a germ, a living thing, it demands feeding. I came to regard it as a baleful presence in the fridge. In amongst all the good things in there, intended to feed me, it would sit there waiting for me to open the door so it could insist that I give it more milk. Every day. Like a dog, it required constant attention, but without being able to chase a ball or lick your face in an affectionate sort of way.

It began to feel like a kind of black hole, at the core of our home. “Gimme, gimme,” it seemed to say, sucking in all it could exert its sinister gravitation on. And if I ever forgot, I was racked by guilt. Why, when we finally got rid of the stuff, I felt terrible, as though I’d killed a pet. It took me a while to recover my equanimity, though I have to say it helped that I could open the fridge without feeling obligated any more.

That sense of relief helped me overcome the regret.

Well, no more. Kefir is back. I can’t help feeling it’s grinning at me, as though it’s scored a point. And, of course, any time now it’ll be demanding to be fed again.

Still, mustn’t be ungracious. It’ll be producing lots of wonderful yoghurt for us. Which I can eat with joy. And enthusiasm.

However thin, watery and tasteless it may be. Or possibly sour.

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