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Not Quite a Three Martini Lunch


My day finally came.

Also, I accidentally discovered a way to get drunk while sitting at my desk in the office drinking no alcohol.

I knew it was only a matter of time before my favorite all-purpose grocery store, Western Beef, started carrying Greek yogurt. Their slogan “We Know the Neighborhood” has meant that their flagship on the Brooklyn-Queens border sells a variety of Central American cheeses and crema, Serbian seasoning packets, Polish seltzer and (look, no serial comma—ok, I’m the only person alive who never used them in the first place and I’m feeling insecure about it) and has an entire wall devoted to Malta, the devil’s beverage, which is essentially non-fermented beer that’s drunk like a soda pop (pronounce that like sody pop).

Now, knowing nearby neighborhood, Bushwick, apparently means that in addition to Chobani and Oikos appearing out of nowhere, there is an entire new section by the fish counter devoted to organic goods. The yogurt I had expected, but never the full jump to Annie’s and Amy’s.

I have mixed feelings. It didn’t occur to me how wrong this new mainstream love of fancy yogurt could go. Rossman Farms, the cheap produce store under the BQE, a.k.a. porn alley, has sold Fage for some time despite being a bare bones vendor. No longer. Last week my thick yogurt of choice had been replaced by Chobani. In this cramped city, stores with a dearth of shelf and fridge space really only have room for one brand of each item. And it seems that Chobani has become the leader. This monopoly is bothersome.

I’m not even passionate about yogurt. It’s just something non-offensive and filling that I can eat between the time when my lunch wears off and I go to the gym straight from work. And I like being able control the amount of sweetness and what toppings I choose to use. I don’t need all those flavors and I don’t want 0% fat. Rossman Farms was not selling plain, only the fruit on the bottom fat-free varieties. What’s wrong with 2% fat? The real treat was that mysterious 5% Fage used to (still does?) make that had fewer calories than the 2%, a trick achieved by shaving 50 grams from the serving size.

But I bought Chobani at both Western Beef and Rossman Farms because it’s better than the cheaper, watery fructose crap that poses as yogurt. Despite loving all the off brands at WB, I just can’t deal with Tropical yogurt (though I’ll eat their cheddar).

The thing is, Chobani has caused me grief in the past beyond the already present fruit and lack of fat. When I bought a case at Costco (BJ’s sells Fage, but with honey only) as a test, two containers turned out to be moldy. And there’s that little fermentation problem. Once, I encountered a fizzy specimen. It didn’t smell rotten, but clearly something wasn’t right about the bubbly, carbonated texture. I took a bite—no, not moldy, just effervescent—but I still tossed it out.

This week, I heard a pop in my lunch bag and figured it was the pineapple somehow escaping the plastic container I had put the slices in. When I took a peek later, I realized the foil top on the yogurt had burst and I had another fermented cup on my hands. What the hell? This time, though, I ate it because I had nothing else to eat and I hate wasting food. And while the sensation in my mouth was weird, the raspberry flavor hadn’t been tainted.

The curious thing was that about one-third of the way through, I started feeling unusually relaxed, my arms and legs un-tensed and I stopped paying attention to what I was working on (ok, I’m never able to pay much attention). My mood perked up. Hey, I was tipsy. My yogurt had somehow fermented into an alcoholic sludge. Is this even possible?

I guess Chobani is good for something, after all.


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