by Tim Gilmore, 4/14/2015
She’d known nothing about yogurt. Her family had never bought it.
She’d heard it was Mediterranean and that Mediterranean food was the healthiest food you could eat. She’d heard “Mediterranean” meant “middle of the earth,” and she’d heard the earth was good for you.
She’d heard Mediterranean yogurt incubated bacteria that made your insides stronger.
So when her roommate had several cartons of Greek yogurt in the fridge, McKenzie wasn’t surprised.
Opening each plastic carton, however, a pungent odor and soft fuzz fluttered toward her mouth and nose.
Growing up in the sterilized suburbs of swamps, she’d not known this middle-of-the-earth food was blue and green and red.
But in her dorm at Kernan and Beach Boulevards, between the university and community college, she inhaled layers of mold grown off yogurt.
When it turned her stomach and intestines inside out, she asked her roommate about his multiple cartons, and he told her he’d bought it to layer his feet.
The active bacterial cultures in yogurt, he said, worked wonders against fungal infections, and nothing soothed his “athlete’s foot” like Greek yogurt.
“Hell,” he’d laughed, “It’s Florida!”
He was sorry blood from his feet had trailed into the yogurt and that he’d allowed mold to proliferate across its surfaces.
“Everybody can’t like blue cheese!” he laughed.
Then she deciphered what she’d previously detected as the smell of sadness in the apartment.
So she dropped out of college and started growing dandelions and arugula on a rural Westside farm, and there she began to educate herself.