Thursday, May 2, 2013

I get my milk from a vending machine

Seriously, I get my milk from a vending machine here in Italy.

My milk machines :) If you look very closely, on the very left of the picture, just to the left of the tiny tree, there is a radio tower on the mountain.  That's my husband's office!

When the milk at the commissary here on Caserma Ederle just became too expensive ($3.85 for a half gallon!!) and ridiculously hard to find due to strikes and spoilage, I finally gave up and decided to look for milk on the economy. The Europeans' view of "fresh dairy" varies greatly from ours. The milk section at any local Italian grocery store (The Prix and The Dico are my two favorites, but I can't stop laughing every time I pass one) contains about 8 tiny liter-size cartons of milk. Apparently, the Italians aren't big milk drinkers and, instead tend to dip their Oreos in the shelf stable kind of "milk". I'm not a big fan of it, but my kids don't seem to mind it--especially the chocolate Matilda kind, which they had enough of to choke a horse with when we lived in the hotel after moving here. So, both of these factors lead me to look elsewhere for some good old fashion cow juice.

 Yogurt, cheese, and milk

I remembered back to when we were living in the hotel for 5 weeks and waiting for our Italian house to be ready back in December 2011.  The Army had provided us with a translator, one was named Fabio--I kid you not, and the other was named Stephania. While we were driving along with Stephania one day, we happened upon a small wooden shack on the side of the this tiny, narrow, curvy country road.  (Almost all Italian country roads are tiny, narrow, and curvy) She explained to us that local dairy farms partnered with an Italian company named Fattorie Venete (Venetian Farms) to provide fresh, local, pasteurized milk to the area.  What happens is this:

*Cows on local farms provide the milk

*The milk is quickly collected, pasteurized, and bottled for sale by Fattorie Venete

*It is then returned to the farm from where it was collected and stocked into these cool little vending machines on the side of curvy, narrow, country roads in Italy.

This is the cow farm.  In the barn, you can see the huge hay bales.  It's right behind the milk machines.

I have never tasted milk so delicious! They also sell huge wheels and triangles of fresh cheese (Asiago is very close to us), yogurts, cream, etc. On our way home each day, we usually stop at the milk machine to buy more milk.  I even have a frequent buyer card that I can load money onto. Milk comes in these tiny liter bottles, so we make frequent stops! Delilah is obsessed with the fragola (strawberry) yogurt smoothy and she frequently screams, "I want yogurt from the machine" on the way home.

 Delilah loves these little cows

 If you look very closely, you can see where the word "Asiago" is printed on the side of the cheese 

 The milk machine sign...

This is the milk shack

Early last spring, we had two bad earthquakes here in Italy.  This is a picture of one of the cheese factories and the damage that it suffered.  If you look carefully, you can see that the round things on these tipped over shelves are blocks of parmesan cheese.  When the shelves fell, the factories had to sell the cheese as "damaged cheese".  This is actually from a poster in all milk machines that sell the damaged cheese.  It reads, "In a gesture of solidarity for the are affected by the earthquake".  All proceeds from this cheese went to help victims of the earthquake that killed 26 people.  Huffington post wrote a great article about the cheese factories and you can read it by clicking HERE.

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