10 Years of Blog Archive

Friday, February 26, 2016

Got Milk? Moooooove over Bessy! - Another Day in the Life in Cuenca Ecuador

What’s it like to live in Cuenca Ecuador, you may be wondering?  Well, good thing you asked because we have a rather amusing story to tell you about today. After all, it is another wonderful day in the life in Cuenca Ecuador. And we mean that even though not everything always goes as planned.

We’ve been looking for raw milk to make yogurt or kefir with.  So we went to a popular Cuenca gringo forum and found a couple of places to get raw milk in Cuenca according to the gringo forum in Cuenca. In fact, the daughter of one of the raw milk producers boasts on the forum that her dad’s milk is very clean, she says publicly on the forum, “He takes care that everything is completely hygienic”.   Her exact words.

Ok, so we’re eager to try out this “raw milk”. Our intention is to try it out (to make yogurt) and if we like it we’ll buy more the next time. So, we call the milk producer and set up an appointment for him to come out the next day. We let him know over the phone that we only want a quart and if we like it, we’ll start buying more from him.

The next day he arrives with the raw milk. We chit chat for a bit and then says, “You need to boil the milk before drinking it”.

We are somewhat taken aback upon hearing this and say to him, “Then it is not raw milk anymore if it needs to be boiled before you can drink it.”

“But it’s not clean and you need to boil it”. He resounds, again.

We’re dumbfounded about hearing this.  Really dumbfounded.

We ask, “What about your cheese, is it raw”?

“Yes, it is raw cheese, he tells us”

At this point we realize something is not right with what he is telling us because if you have to boil the milk first to make the cheese then the cheese is not raw.

We stare at each other in silence, waiting…waiting…feeling just a bit uncomfortable because the cheese is not raw but he just said it was. 

He finally pipes up after about 10 seconds later and says, “I boil the milk first and then make the cheese”?

“Then the cheese is not raw either”.

He shook his head and said again a bit frustrated, “Just boil it before drinking”.

Our search for ‘raw’ milk thus far from a forum is in vain.  We went ahead and made yogurt with the milk (we did not boil it) as the live enzymes formed during the fermentation process of yogurt making are supposed to kill any bad bacteria like E-Coli. 

So, 18 hours later when the yogurt is done, we hem and haw with each other about who is going to try out the new yogurt we made with unclean milk and well, we decided not to eat the yogurt. We threw it out. Glad we only bought one quart instead of two or three gallons.

Since then we asked around of our Ecuadorian neighbors and were quickly hooked up with someone who actually does have hygienically clean practices and he says emphatically, “No way, you do not have to boil my milk, it is very clean!” 

And it is. We’ve been making yogurt with it, no problems.

This just tells us, once again what we already knew all along, be wary of what you read on the Internet and watch out where you get your information from.  If she (the daughter) would have stated in the advert that you need to boil the milk first, we would never have wasted our time calling it.  

You can actually learn a lot from such incidents.

What have we learned from this incident? Now we know there is dirty, raw milk that needs boiled first before drinking and is advertised as raw milk, and there is milk producers that sell raw milk that actually do use safe cleanliness practices on their farms so that you do not need to boil the milk.

Interesting how when living in an Ecuadorian neighborhood, dealing with the locals seems to pan out much better than relying on gringo forums.  Not a judgement, just a fact.  And this is just one of the problems with going to a foreign country, not learning the language and not interacting with locals on a neighborly basis.  You get stuck relying on forums that are, well, unreliable.  Thank God we repented of our laziness.

Until we write again…you might like these other 'day in the life' articles too.
We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!


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