Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | May 24, 2007

Cows and cheesecake

I was lactose-intolerant for approximately ten years, from shortly after moving to Israel until I was pregnant with the Little One. As anyone who lives in Israel knows, the sheer quantity and variety of dairy products here is simply unparalleled, and I frequently found myself skipping over entire menu sections, constantly having to ask whether or not certain dishes contained dairy products and whether or not these dishes could be altered to accommodate my needs. Before becoming pregnant, I had read an article that some lactose-intolerant women become tolerant while pregnant, and that some women maintain that tolerance after giving birth. I decided to test this theory, since I was at home due to the high risk nature of the pregnancy, and very, very bored. Much to my surprise, I discovered that I was indeed tolerant (though a cruel twist of fate meant that I had gestational diabetes, so there were still many forbidden foods).

I hungrily consumed dairy products for the duration of my pregnancy, all the time pondering what would happen once I gave birth. The tolerance stayed with me, and I couldn’t help but wonder if it was due to the fact that I was nursing, which played a small role in the fact that we nursed until the Little One was one month shy of his second birthday (with me pumping twice during the workday in order to keep up the supply, until he was 11 months-old), as I didn’t want to revert to my former intolerant self. The Little One is nearly three years old, and I’m still eating dairy. I’ve discovered a whole world of ice cream, yogurt, pasta dishes with cream sauce, cheeses, and of course, my beloved latte. And finally, after many years of suffering and dread, I have been able to embrace the holiday of Shavuot, where tradition dictates that we eat copious amounts of dairy foods, and not eating at least some cheesecake is akin to sacrilege.

During Shavuot, agriculture is king, and in Israel, we celebrate with a veritable plethora of farm activities, whether they be tractor demonstrations, hay rides, and trips to various working farms around the country. We took the opportunity to visit friends on a moshav, as the friends have cows and tractors, and we were anxious to show the Little One where milk comes from. We strolled through the barn, discussing the bovine activities that we were witnessing and playing on the many tractors in the yard. As luck would have it, we were there for milking time, and the Husband brought the Little One into the center of the milking apparatus so that he could watch the cows line up on either side and get hooked up to the milking machine. He enjoyed the experience, though I think he was a bit unnerved by being surrounded by so many cows.

I stood on the side, watching my son as he witnessed in wonder. And as I watched each udder hooked up to the pump and observed the milk begin to flow, all I could think of was, “I know what that feels like!” Indeed, I am a sad cow…

In case you were wondering, the cheesecake was excellent…



  1. I’ve always thought of you as a rather cheerful cow… and really, our milking machines were much less invasive…don’t you think? 🙂

  2. I’m jealous! I “saved up” all week waiting to have my slice oh cheesecake yesterday…and what happens? I have to leave the get-together before they bust out dessert…AHHHH!!!!

  3. Oh man… It was really cruel of you, just after a person is barely moving from all these cheeses and stuff.

    Overeating no more!

  4. What kind of cheesecake? is it the fluffy one with whipcream or the more solid baked with some pudding on top?

  5. last night instead of teaching grammar, i showed my english students all about american dining culture via online menus. WE were stuck on the cheesecake factory for like twenty minutes. even jon came in the room to drool!

  6. Tractor demonstrations! Next year I’m looking for Israel in the World Ploughing Championships.

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