AUGUST 13, 2007
Somewhere back in the hairy-assed Stone Age one of our thirsty, unibrowed ancestors had the audacity to get his milk from an entirely different species. Who knows? Could have been a precocious 2 year old or simply some prehistoric Benny Hill, the point is that regardless of the motivation, it must have been a hard sell to the rest of the clan, not to mention the respective cow/goat/camel/yak/water buffalo. It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to grab the tits of a lactating mother of your own species, but it takes big brass ones to crawl up under the belly of a 1,000 pound hairy beast and start tugging on her mams. One would expect to see more hieroglyphics detailing the hilarious Neolithic bloopers that must have ensued, but apparently history is not written by people with hoof marks in their foreheads or dung in their hair. Suffice it to say that domestication of dairy animals must have been a long and winding road, albeit a necessary one on the journey to modern civilization. Hunting is a decent enough leisure activity (unless maybe you’re bird hunting with Deadeye Dick), but chasing around critters for your daily sustenance can be a frustrating and demoralizing experience, especially if you’re a Buddhist. The Plains Indians (aka indigenous occupants of middle America) made a pretty decent go of it, but they racked up a lot of frequent follower miles in the process. Props to them however for figuring out how to live “off the tit,” as it were for hundreds of years. Sure, you can criticize them for not inventing gunpowder, the wheel, or movable type, but if you’ve ever sidled up beside a full-grown American bison, you’ll never disparage them for not having whipped up a respectable smoked Havarti. Unlike their light-loafered European counterparts, the American buffalo’s ass-kicking switch is always engaged, so milking one is pretty much out of the question, not to mention adult American buffalo bull can weigh more than 2,000 pounds, which can either be seen as a lot of fresh meat or a good reason not to fondle the cows’ teats. Someone might have tried at some point, but the size of his balls surely hindered his escape from the charging bull. Lesson learned. Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, our European ancestors were growing fat and happy enjoying the advantages of dairy animal domestication: Fresh churned butter, curds and whey, quiches, cheeses, cow tipping. Sitting on a bucket and yanking teats may be hard work, but it’s not like chasing around a thundering herd of bison all day. Eventually, if you make enough cheese, you can turn your attentions to other pursuits like arts, sciences, and oppressing indigenous peoples. The Europeans excelled at all three, so it was only a matter of time before they invented ice cream. Used to be only folks in chillier climes could enjoy this delicacy, but since the advent of mechanical refrigeration, it’s been a special favorite of people in hot places like Texas. Ironically, ice cream doesn’t cool much down except your throat and generally just makes you fatter and correspondingly hotter than you would be had you not eaten it in the first place. Ah, but it sure feels good going down. This Saturday at Waterloo Park, you can cool down, fatten up, and celebrate the domestication of dairy animals at the first ever Austin Ice Cream Festival. Sample ice creams from a variety of local vendors, listen to live music by Nakia & His Southern Cousins, Boxcar Preachers, and Idgy Vaughn, and help raise money for local charities. The festival starts at 10am and ends at 7pm. By that time you should be wanting to get off the tit anyway.