31 October 2009

The Quest for Calcium, Episode I

I’m sure that all of you have been hanging by the seats of your pants for these past few weeks, just waiting to begin the Quest for Calcium series. Am I right? Well, either way, it’s time.

I’ve been biding my time, documenting my calcium quest for weeks now. I know that I can get my necessary calcium through cheese, ice cream, or even supplements, but really, I just miss milk a lot: cow’s milk, soy milk, whatever. I still have yet to find a winner here in China, but fear not - I have hope. Anyway, I have devised a scale of 1 to 5 points, 1 being not worth buying again unless it were the only beverage left on Earth, and 5 being...well, truthfully, nothing has ranked that high yet, so if I find it, I’ll let you know.

Mission #1
The beginning of my quest occurred way back in early September, and, at that point, I wasn’t even sure yet that I was on a quest. I bought a bag of milk - no, that’s not a typo, and yes, you read correctly: a BAG of milk - from the supermarket near my dorm. It was recommended to me by my Seattlean friend, Matisse. I poured it over some cereal and was unimpressed - actually, before I ever even used it, I had to refrigerate it myself, as it had been room temperature in the store. (Is that safe? I don’t know.) Then, when I went to pour it, I had to be ever-so-careful not to squeeze too hard or tip the bag so as to not spill the milk. And when I finally tried it, it was whole milk, which I have come to find reminds me distinctly of cheese, which I prefer to not think about when enjoying my cereal.

Mission #2
The next drink that I tried was okay. The bottle has a lot of Chinese but calls the beverage “Nutri-Express” in English. The picture is a slice of apple splattering into a bowl of milk, so I went into this mission imagining apple-flavored milk. That is more or less what I got, so, if the drink is cold (which, of course, it never is on the shelves in the store) and I can go into it thinking of not milk, but apple milk, then I can stomach it. I can’t say for sure, due to the Chinese label, but I at least hope that I am getting some calcium out of this thing. Negative points for having to refrigerate it myself again.

Mission #3
The same day that I tried Nutri-Express, I bought a small plastic container of what looked like soy milk. It was in similar packaging to the Little Hugs that are found in the U.S., but the liquid was opaque, and the bottle was much tinier, so despite the completely Chinese label, I was pretty sure that it was not a sugary, watery drink.

It turns out that my assumption was right, as near as I can tell. It was weak soy milk. It was unflavored. It was alright, but I’m not a huge fan, and I can’t say for sure whether or not it has been fortified with calcium, so that pretty much defeats the purpose, I guess.

Mission #4
The fourth attempt that I made at finding milk was purchasing a half-pint carton from Auchan. I tried this on my cereal, as well, and was met with a similar outcome to Mission #1. Fail.

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