That's right folks. After at least 4 months there is fresh milk for sale in Lagos. I don't really even drink milk (lactose intolerant) and I was still excited.
You see, my mom bought me this super awesome cheese making kit so I can make ricotta and mozzarella at home - perfect for a place where a small tub of ricotta will run a person 15$. The only problem is that you just can't make cheese with UHT (boxed) milk. And the one and only supplier of milk happened to stop supplying just about exactly when this kit arrived.
Since then I've been lamenting the lack of milk to anyone who would listen.
Fast forward to yesterday. A friend casually mentioned in conversation that he'd seen 'boutique' milk for sale at one of the big South African stores. He said the supply is limited, and it's crazy expensive, but I was undeterred. I drove straight there and arrived within 5 minutes of the store's opening. I bought up the entire stock of fresh milk (1.6 gallons total) for $30. So yes, expensive for sure. But so worth it! I love that this stuff is not orange and stale tasting. I love that I can make things with it. I love that it is not 'shelf-stable' for a suspiciously long time. I guess this experience has served to remind me that you should never take stuff for granted.
Also - it brings up an important aspect of Lagos Living that I wanted to mention - scarcity.
Despite being able to find almost anything I want to purchase there are still a few items that haven't yet 'caught on'. Fresh milk is clearly one of them. Also - bagels (a very recent arrival to Lagos, and still only available frozen), tofu, fresh berries, cream cheese and sour cream. In fact - mostly it's dairy products that are hard to find and expensive. I think it's because dairy products make up exactly 0% of the Nigerian food pyramid.
I will say this for Lagos however, every single one of these items is available sometime, you just have to be willing to pay an arm and a leg for it. And isn't that what the cost-of-living pay is for after all? One's ability to track down hard-to-find items is also a good indicator of how long they've been in Nigeria and how adventurous they are. If you're willing to get out there and dig you'll almost always stumble on something good. That's the fun of living in Lagos, right? A trip to the grocery store becomes a hunt for buried treasure. Granted, I'm not always in the mood for an adventure. Sometimes I just want to get my food and be done with it. But it's nice when life has a little challenge to it...
This article provides some good insight into the reason for the scarcity (and the cost) of fresh, non-Nigerian, food.