When a mutual friend connected me with filmmaker Sebastian Lindstrom, he mentioned something about camel milk. A little research brought up several amusing web domains, including a site about camels, BeTheCheese.org, and one about where Lindstrom sleeps, WhatAreWeDoingNowThatWeAreHere.com. But when I met Lindstrom in Manhattan recently and he pulled a bottle of pasteurized camel milk from Kenya from his suitcase, nothing had quite prepared me for the experience.
Heavy and with a taste that transported me to a farm far from the tall city buildings, the beverage is the subject of the Swedish director's latest project as part of the organization he cofounded What Took You So Long. The Nairobi, Kenya-based team's mission is to raise questions and awareness about unnoticed issues around the world by telling those stories through documentaries, having already covered thousands of miles in their pursuits. Led by Lindstrom, who's former Swedish Special Forces, the grassroots bunch crossed the African continent on local transport and trekked through Papua New Guinea.
The camel cheese (and milk) project started in Africa, but has taken the team to 18 countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Currently being edited into a feature film, "Hot Chocolate for Bedouins," portions have also been used to spark discussion and debate in local communities around the world.
Why camel milk you may ask? Even drinkable for lactose-intolerant people, the drink is also allegedly extremely healthy, boosting peoples' immune systems to help fight the effects of many diseases like diabetes, anemia, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. With the help of WTYSL, the word is spreading, more advocates are popping up around the world for our humped-back friends, and you might just find camel milk next to the two-percent someday soon.
Check out the above exclusive clip for a taste, or Londoners can see "Hot Chocolate for Bedouins", a 30-minute preview of the forthcoming documentary, at the School for Oriental and African Studies' Camel Conference. RSVP for free here.