Just don't drink it straight.
Growing up, my Cuban mother didn't bake. She or my dad did, on occasion, make pancakes-- but never with buttermilk. Always the classic light and thin pancakes from the quintessential Southern Cookbook, Virginia Road Recipes, which we picked up the year we lived in Fairfax County, Virginia, while my dad worked as a hot shot lawyer in DC.
Anyway, buttermilk! Our pancakes didn't have them; waffles and scones and biscuits were things of restaurants and coffee shops, not home-cooked fare. I recognized the name in so many delicious pastries, but what was this elusive substance? Was it butter? Or milk?
So on a trip to Milwaukee to see my dear friend Annie during college (oh, the days of flight vouchers and free visits to friends!), when she jokingly included buttermilk in her list of beverage options, I said yes. I wanted to try this thing that had brought so much joy to my weekend brunches and weekday scones at the the classroom building's cafe in college.
Kind, sweet Annie tried to dissuade me from taking her offer seriously. When I insisted, she poured only a small amount, enough to taste.
Then she poured me water.
Thank you, Ms. Annie. The water proved necessary after sampling the buttermilk.