Cancel My Order for Buffalo

Coming soon to a suburb near you!

Coming soon to a suburb near you!

Dear Livestock Supplier,

I am writing to ask you to please cancel my order for the herd of buffalo I recently placed while in a jet-lagged stupor.

Allow me to explain. I just returned from a trip to Italy, and it seems Italy does funny things to your psyche. Probably something to do with a lack of pasteurization, but I digress. While in Italy, I had the most amazing buffalo milk mozzarella, the kind of thing that, once you eat it, you just know that once you go back to the United States all of the food is just going to suck. Life changing, this stuff.

So of course, me being me, I started to think, “Hey! How can I get this stuff into the U.S.?” but of course I never even considered smuggling it back in my suitcase packed in dry ice and wrapped in many layers of sweaters so the customs agents wouldn’t find it. Because that would be wrong. (Whoo hoo! Shout out to the USDA! I love you crazy guys!) I mean, we have buffalo mozzarella here, but trust me when I say it’s not even in the same league as the stuff in Italy.

Again, me being me, I started to think, “Hey! I can learn to make it myself! That’s it! I will become an artisan cheesemaker, specializing in fresh buffalo mozzarella!” This was possibly after having an espresso. Like drinking paint thinner, but really gets the thought process jumpin’, ya know? Oh, it was going to be fantastic! We would of course have our own small farm, and I’ve always wanted a farm.

And of course, to learn to make the cheese, we would have to move to Italy for a few months, where we would rent a small farmhouse somewhere near Campania, and where a local cheesemaker named Luigi would take us under his wing and teach us his traditional, secret, cheesemaking ways, but only after we cracked his irascible exterior, which is a result of his beloved wife Carmela being killed in a bizarre cheese-making sort of accident, and he blames himself, but we help him see that it IT WASN’T HIS FAULT and then there is a heartwarming scene with hugs and tears and then he teaches my kids some Italian. (Aaaand scene.)

Or something like that. Where was I?

Oh yes, I had it all worked out. Until I realized that in order to make buffalo mozzarella, you need buffalo milk. From an actual buffalo. Which would involve milking buffalos. Buffali. Anyhoo. That’s where you came in. After I placed my order for said buffalo, I read the fine print. I find it necessary to reverse my decision, and here’s why.

Aside from the obvious size issue (buffalo aren’t exactly space-savers, amiright?) It turns out they’re not docile at all. Buffalo (buffali?) are incredibly cranky animals, and being milked pretty much makes them want to kill people. I saw the pictures – there’s hate in those eyes, people. (Cut to scene of my children fleeing to the house in a panic with an angry, snorting buffalo on their heels.) I’m not envisioning many people lining up for the job, is all I’m saying.

Also, we don’t have an actual farm yet, and these animals need to be surrounded by a 6-7 foot fence. Therefore our attractive split rail fence which contains the dog so nicely might not work out so well. I can just imagine the calls from the neighbors: “Um, hi, it’s Brenda, from down the street? Yeah, I just wanted to let you know your buffalo herd is out again. They’re heading toward Mrs. Miller’s… Whoops! They just trampled Mrs. Miller. Oh, that’s a shame. Anyhow, see you at the block party! Toodles!”

Lastly, according to your website, it only takes 3 to 4 generations of calving to make them docile enough to milk. And that involves lots of blecchhy artificial insemination, of which I am certain I want no part. Of. I just wanted some cheese!

In closing, please cancel my order. I may be interested in some goats, however. Everyone loves goat cheese, right? See, I have this idea, that involves a small farmhouse in the French countryside, and an irascible goat cheese maker named Pierre…

All the best,


Kicking and Screaming

Venice. Yep, this actually happened!

Venice. Yep, this actually happened!

If you noticed, The Shallow End went dark for the past couple of weeks. Turned out the lights, put a little “Gone Fishin’ ” sign in the window, locked the door, and left. Left for Italy for two whole weeks. Yes, I said Italy. I still can’t believe it myself.

Let’s back up. The VP had an important birthday this year. And it has always been his dream to go to Italy for this milestone. He works hard, and has to travel a lot for his job, so he’s been saving up his airline miles and hotel points for years to make this trip happen. He was firmly of the opinion that this was the right time in our lives to go. Me? Well, let’s just say it took some, uh, persuasion.

We have never been away from our kids for this long. As a matter of fact, we have rarely been away from them at all – just a handful of times over the years. So the prospect of leaving the children with a sitter and flying overseas completely freaked me out. I’m talking the hysterical, panicky, can’t breathe kind of freaked out. For months, I have been falling to pieces on a regular basis just thinking about going away.

I’m a mom. That’s my role. It’s what I do. I take care of my kids, and no one can do it like I can. They need me, and I need them. So for me to contemplate leaving them for two weeks was excruciating. Not to mention the horrible things that could befall me on the trip and cause me to never come home at all, like a plane crash , terrorist attack,  or being run over by a Vespa. (You laugh, but those things are speedy, I tell ya).

Since I am a nervous flyer under the best of circumstances, mostly I was imagining the plane plummeting into the ocean. Yep, I went there. In my mind I recalled every horrible plane crash I could think of, and the reasons the plane went down.  I even started reasoning with God that, if the plane was to crash, at least let it be on dry land so they could find parts of me.  Why yes, I am a ball of fun. Thanks for asking.

Oh, and here’s what not to do if you are getting ready to take an international flight: Google search “odds of dying in a plane crash”.  I did this thinking that it would make me feel better. Guess what? It didn’t. The first results were not what I expected, so I foolishly went to another website. Those odds were higher than the first ones. WTF? So of course I went to yet another sight. You guessed it, higher still. I continued to click on websites and watch the odds of me dying in a plane crash increase, until I think the last website said something like “kiss your fanny goodbye”  and by then I had my head between my knees and was breathing into a paper bag.

I spent months explaining to the VP why we shouldn’t, and couldn’t, take this trip. He in turn spent months ignoring my protestations, and instead doing inconsiderate things like making hotel reservations, buying plane tickets, and learning Italian. Bastard.

And it didn’t help that every time I told someone we were going to Italy, they were supportive and positive until they asked how long we were going for and when I said two weeks there went the raised eyebrows, a well-placed pause, then a “Wow. That’s a really long time.”  Thanks. Thanks for that.

And then, as a final safeguard against me backing out, VP brought out the big guns. He decided to make it a family affair, and to do the trip with his brother and sister-in-law (aka the Rock Star and the Supermodel). As soon as they had their plane tickets, the deal was done, and any feeble attempt I made to whine, “But I just don’t think we should leave the children!” was met with the response “Well, they already paid for their tickets. We can’t back out now. Sorry.” Bastard.

So we went. Two weeks in Italy. And it is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever seen. The most incredible tradition and history, palpable in every step, visible around every corner.  Not to mention the food and the wine. Turns out the Italians have this thing with food and wine. What do you know? So do I. Some time on the first day there, I was all, “Italy, where have you been all my life?” and Italy was all “Um, I’ve been here for over two thousand years, dummy.” Except it was in Italian so it sounded way better.

We Skyped  with the kids every day while we were gone, and talked to them on the phone, and it turns out they can get along without me for a couple of weeks after all. What’s that? No, I just have a thing in my eye.

And now we are home, safe and sound, and the kids are just fine. So I had that much more to be thankful for this week.