According to a study done by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, 30 to 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant. The disorder affects some populations more than others:
- Seventy-five percent of all African-American, Jewish, Mexican-American, and Native American adults are lactose intolerant.
- Ninety percent of Asian-American adults are lactose intolerant.
- And lactose intolerance is least common among people with a northern European heritage.
Growing up as an Asian-American, dairy products were not a huge part of my diet. I would enjoy the occasional bowl of cereal and of course ice-cream for dessert, but I usually stuck to standard rice, fish, veggie and meat dishes. It wasn’t until college, when a charming young man offered to prepare a popular cheese dish from his native country, Switzerland, for one of our early “courtship” dates.
When I arrived at his apartment the table was set: ramekins filled with condiments like pickled onions, baby corn, cornichon (aka gerkins/mini pickles); a large basket of french bread cut into cubes; and a table burner with a large pot of melted Swiss cheese. This was the time before pre-packaged fondue, so he prepared the two cheese mixes of Gruyère and Emmentaler with white wine and garlic clove himself. It was an impressive set-up. We had fun dipping our bread into the pot of simmering cheese and, to my surprise, it tasted oh-so-delicious!
Unfortunately, halfway into the meal my stomach began to gurgle, moan and cramp. It felt like I was about to give birth to a ball of cheese. As a remedy, my date suggested I take a swig of kirsch (cherry schnapps). Desperate for relief, I took a shot and braced for a long, sleepless night.
You would think that after such an experience I would’ve sworn off Fondue. I didn’t, I haven’t and I probably won’t ever. Why? I really enjoyed the taste of cheese. Real cheese – not Kraft singles or boxed Velveeta cheddar. I should also mention that I ended up marrying the charming Swiss man who introduced Fondue to me. Cheese is part of his DNA. There is no escaping cheese in our household, especially if he’s THE designated chef.
Thanks to supplemental probiotics, the intolerance symptoms are non-existent. Guess that means hubby and I will be enjoying Fondue for two for many years to come.