Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Camel Latte?

I read with interest about recent news coverage on a UAE diary company promoting camel milk in Europe and other parts of the world. the milk from the one-humped ungulate is reputed to be high in Vitamin C, low in fat and cholestrol and even contains insulin.

While the UAE company produces milk from the Arabian dromedary camel (Camelus dromedarius), I had actually tasted the milk from its two-humped cousin, the Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus) when I was in Xinjiang. My wife, Robina and I ventured into a ethnic Kazakh restaurant in Urumqi, the provincial capital of Xinjiang (a region of Western China with turkic Uighur majority).
Amongst other Kazakh specialties, I tried a mug of cold camel milk. It tasted slightly sour or yoghurty, so it should be mildly fermented. Strangely refreshing, and totally different from cow's milk.

Right on the table was a poster touting the health benefits of camel milk from herds tended by Kazakh herdsmen and claims of not being diluted by a single drop of water

Those who might be interested in the camel and its impact to human history, could very well read "The Camel and the Wheel" by Richard Bulliet, an expert on medieval Arab history from Columbia University. Bulliet weaved an amazing story tracing the domestication of the camel by the Arabs that contributed to the rapid spread of Islam throughout the Middle-East and North Africa.

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