The other day I went to the pulpería on the way home from work. Just so you know, a pulpería is like a Costa Rican convenience store, although quite a bit less convenient. I’ll really have to do a separate post about them sometime. But the point is this: they sell basic foods, and they’re in most little towns in Costa Rica. They also usually have better hours than a supermarket, so you can do things like picking up milk on the way home from work at 9:50 pm.
Which is exactly what I did. But instead of a gallon, which I usually buy, the only “fresh” milk they had was in plastic bags. I could have bought a tetra-pack cube of milk, but it’s that Ultra High Temperature stuff that doesn’t need to be refrigerated, and it just tastes kind of gross to me. So I gathered up my courage and bought a little plastic bag of milk.
Little plastic bags of milk aren’t a phenomenon isolated to Costa Rica, of course. I bought them now and then when I was living in Germany, until one day a bag of milk leaked all over my backpack. That’s the kind of thing that’ll turn you off of little plastic bags of milk. That, and the way they feel in your hand when you carry them to the cash register. Now, I’ve never actually touched silicon breast implants, but just like you, I saw all the news reports when they started leaking in the late 1990s. The implants in the doctors hands on the TV screen bore a remarkable resemblance to these little plastic bags of milk in my hands.
So, those are a few reasons I’m wary about little plastic bags of milk. Here are five more:
1. The milk’s motto is apparently “Tómese su lechita.” That translates to “Drink your little milk.” There’s just something I don’t like about the use of the diminutive “-ita” in this motto. I find it very patronizing. Hey, Dos Pinos! If I wanted someone to overbearingly mother me and tell me to drink my “little milk,” I’d move in with my in-laws.
2. It’s advertised as “100% leche de vaca,” which of course means “100% cow’s milk.” I don’t have any problems with goat, camel, or horse milk per se, but I just kind of assumed that when one buys milk, at least in the western world, it’s gonna be cow’s milk. Thanks, though! From now on, I’ll worry about my milk’s provenance every time I don’t see this disclaimer.
3. It’s 670 milliliters. What kind of measurement is that? We used to have a saying back in Colorado: “Go liter or go home.” Actually, we didn’t. But it’s still a weird quantity.
4. You can’t really see it in this picture, but in the bottom right corner, it says “familia popular,” meaning “popular family.” Now, if it were a two-liter or gallon-sized container, I could see why they might call it something like “family size.” But I don’t actually understand what they mean with “popular family,” neither in Spanish nor in English. Either it’s barely on this side of subliminal marketing (“you and your family will be popular if you buy this milk”), or they just needed something to fill in the corner, so they chose the first two words that came to mind, à la Pearl Jam, Blind Melon, and Tripping Daisy.
5. You can’t see it in the black and white picture above, but the bag’s color scheme is blue. Light blue throughout, with a blue-green band in the center. Blue is not a good color for food, and especially not for milk. You know who else drank blue milk? Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. And what happened next? That’s right, his protocol droid got bashed to pieces by sand people and Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru got killed by stormtroopers. Case closed.
And finally, for the secret “hidden track” of this list:
6. It’s milk in a bag.
What about you? Do you have any stories of dairy products sold in unconventional packaging? If so, then by all means, please leave a comment. After all, Costa Rica Outsider is first and foremost about Costa Rica, but number two on our mission statement is to stand up to and expose the misdeeds of the military-dairy-industrial complex!
Thanks for reading, and have a great week!
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