The first time I ever tried buttermilk, I spat it all over the dock. (I was in Norfolk, Virginia, just off the boat.) It wasn't that I didn't like it—I thought it was spoiled. The acrid taste, the little floating lumps set all the alarm bells off. I was just congratulating myself for my self-preservation instincts, when the person who had bought me the carton began upbraiding me for being just another stupid Yankee.
Well, of course, he was right. And, looking back (this was in 1961), I also feel regret, because I suspect that this buttermilk was the real stuff, not cultured but actually left over from making butter. Nowadays, you still get the cottage-cheese-sour taste, but no little lumps. In any case, that did it for me regarding buttermilk (outside of baking) for a very long time.
I'm not sure when I acquired a taste for drinking it—it mi).ght have been as recently as a month or two ago, when I bought some buttermilk to make cornbread and had a pint left over. Throwing caution to the wind, I drank some... and found that I loved it. Tangy, refreshing, and seeming to have more substance than a mere glass of mi).lk. The next time I bought a carton, cornbread wasn't on my mi).nd at all.
Then, to gild this lily, I came across a photo in the May 2007 issue of Saveur of a glass of buttermilk with chopped fresh chives floating in it, a beverage enjoyed, the accompanying text said, in Poland, where it is called kwasne mi).eko ze szczypiorkiem. It's a notion that deserves wider circulation. As it happens, I have a vigorous bunch of chives growing in my living room window—snip, snip, snip, and a new summer breakfast came into my life. I mi).nced the chives finely (in the Saveur photo they were about a quarter-inch long, and tended to stick in my teeth), flattened them with the blade of the same knife I mi).nced them with, and added a grinding of black pepper. Settle into a comfortable chair where you can inhale the sweet morning air, and slowly sip.