Hi Everyone, I have suffered from severe migraine headaches since I was a child. I was officially diagnosed in my early 20s. Over the years, I have kept a record of foods, circumstances and conditions that trigger my migraines. Last July, I reluctantly had to give up Milo because it triggers my migraines. Based on my food diary, I had known for a while now that I should give up Milo but I was in a state of complete denial. I don’t have vices but the one thing I do enjoy is a hot mug of Milo at night so having to give it up was big deal for me.
In a way, this column is like my official goodbye to the chocolate-malt drink, which has been a source of comfort, pleasure and a taste of home.
Growing up, Milo was always an evening drink. I don’t know if there is any truth to it but my siblings and I were always told drinking Milo would make us sleepy and that is why it was only drunk at nights, just before going to bed. We believed it and even as adults that belief still held sway even if it was just all in our heads. Perhaps it is something to do with the milk. Mommy would make a pot of milky Milo, creamy with the addition of Carnation evaporated milk. It was the drink of champions (as it is still touted today). When test time or exams time came around, we got a daily dose of Milo for a good night’s rest, for energy and brainpower.
More than drinking Milo, I enjoyed eating Milo, even as an adult. Can you recall that the Milo came as granules and not in the complete powder form it does now? Man I really missed the granules. I was particularly annoyed the first time I opened a can of Milo and saw no granules. Part of the joy of eating the Milo, for me, was the crunch of the granules. I would eat it by the spoonful. Another plus for the granules is that I liked that they would not always completely dissolve but float to the top of the cup and melt into the frothy milk.
Downing a mug of Milo with a signature West Indian bread such as Tennis Roll, Salt Bread, Butterflap, Bun and Cheese, a slice of coconut Sweet Bread, or toast and butter makes one wild with pleasure.
How do you make your Milo? My mom made it two ways. Whenever there was fresh cow’s milk, she would boil the milk and add the Milo to it and sweeten it with sugar. On the occasions where there was no fresh cow’s milk, she would make the Milo with boiled water and add thick, velvety, Carnation evaporated milk along with sugar. I liked it both ways. As an adult, I found myself making Milo just the way my mom did. For me, it is a taste of home.
Milo is also a taste of home for many West Indians living abroad. Whilst on a visit to Washington State a few years ago, I visited a Vietnamese grocery store and lo and behold, there, adorning a shelf was a long row of Milo. I picked up two cans to take back to my friend’s house and surprise her (she’s West Indian). You would not believe how overjoyed she was about the Milo. It was a taste of home! That night, we made large mugs of Milo and sat at each end of the sofa, cradling the hot mugs, sipping quietly, lost in our own thoughts and memories. There was no need to speak. As soon as I finished drinking my Milo, as if on cue, I started to yawn.
Oh how I miss my Milo.