One thing about driving across America in the wintertime is that you have to get up early, so that you can actually see America before the sun goes down around 5:00 p.m. This, for me, means coffee. As much as I’ve embraced my chemical dependence on caffeine, I’ve never been a black coffee drinker, or even much of a coffee connessieur. It is a warming, varyingly fragrant vehicle for my consciousness-sustaining drug. I am one of those people Malcolm Gladwell pointed out who likes “weak, milky coffee.” Basically my ideal cuppa is a lukewarm mug of moderately coffee-flavored milk product.
But it is always a milk “product.” In the best cases, the product of soybeans, almonds, or other nuts soaked in water, pulverized, and squeezed out, resulting in a whitish, nutty-flavored liquid that works in coffee, cereal, and can even make terrific life-sustaining ice “cream.” Because, like the majority of the world’s population, I lost my ability to digest the sugars in milk (lactose) when I became an adult–around age 22. Which means I can have a nibble of cheese here, a splash of cream there, and maybe a taste or three of your creme brulee, but in general, me consuming more than a small amount dairy products leads to a digestive distress that I’d rather not expound upon in detail.