Remembering Dom Anfiteatro
December 25, 1957 – February 8, 2021
Dear Fellow Fermenters and Kefir enthusiasts,
Since Feb 2021, and well before when Dom became unwell, we have missed his energy and infectious enthusiasm.
His passing has left an enormous hole in our lives as you can imagine. I spent 27 years with him and his daughter 17 years.
I promised Dom I would do what it took to keep his cultures going as well as the web site information to be freely available to all that wish to refer to it.
It has been a challenge to do this as well as re-build our lives as just mother and daughter now. Not to mention refreshing this house where we spent the bulk of our 27 years together.
We get great comfort in knowing that Dom’s Kefir and legacy continues to live.
And we also know that Dom is looking down and smiling from above, knowing that what he created will be of lasting value to the kefir community.
So please, enjoy it all with our blessing and know that I am here for any help, questions and support that you may need along the way.
And as Dom would also say, Be-Well and Kefir Hugs!
Sandra and Shedea
Beginning in 1979, yours truly introduced to the folks of South Australia, and to Australia in fact, a wide variety of cultured food-products. This endeavour began shortly before I volunteered to manage a vegetarian restaurant, the Clearlight Cafe, in the city of Adelaide, South Australia beginning in 1980. This oasis was situated in the city providing local city workers and travellers with wonderful organic, natural wholesome foods and beverages– a conglomeration of a wide variety of recipes and different food-types from different human cultures. This convenient outlet increased awareness of a range of wholesome healthy foods that I took interest in and developed.
Within a few years, the evolution of life took me to the point of realising the meaning behind, If you catch fish for folks, they eat for one meal. But if you teach folks how to fish, they can eat forever. With this understanding, I encourage the art of self-sufficiency, by assisting interested folks how to prepare mostly but not strictly, natural, wholesome culture food-products. Hence in part the creation of this site including a self-published essential manual, Kefir! A Probiotic Gem Cultured With Probiotic Jewels: Kefir Grains! – Information for purchasing Dom’s ebook and his cultures can be found here.
Kefir-Grains oh Kefir! Where Art Thi Culture-Art?
Self-mastering and then expanding on the art of preparing a unique, culture milk-product of the Caucasus Mountains known as Kefir came quite natural to me. This is because of the basic knowledge I have in the area of food fermentation based on old Italian Tradition, which I feel I was fortunate enough to be a part of my upbringing. This includes the fermentation of fresh grape juice for making wine, cheese making, culturing raw salted meat for making Prosciutto, Salami, Capicolo, Sopressata etc. Other ferments include vinegar pickled fresh veggies such as eggplant, capsicum green tomato and more. These are old methods developed for long term storage of fresh food, where refrigeration wasn’t an option.
The process for kefir specifically relies on THE most interesting and beneficial, robust, self-perpetuating mother-culture of all known fermented milk starter-cultures. The starter is referred to as kefir grains an ancient, everlasting natural starter, used in fresh milk to prepare kefir, the feel-good healthy, nutritious and refreshing beverage. Kefir can be explained as a type of drinking yogurt, similar to cultured buttermilk.
Self-mastery soon after extended to the infamous water-kefir prepared with another unique natural starter-culture, a cousin to milk kefir-grains mentioned above. This particular natural starter is referred to as Water Kefir-Grains [WKG] or Sugary Kefir-Grains [SKG]. Although similar to milk kefir-grains in the way the mother-culture initiates fermentation and forms as individual biological bodies, SKG are used to prepare a vegetarian refreshing bubbly beverage– water kefir. Water kefir can be described as a natural lemonade or Ginger Root Beer, but with a health-promoting probiotic with a tangy tango twist.
How Kefir Grains and Kefir were Introduced in My Life
I first became aware of milk kefir in the mid 1970s. Kefir was discussed in two books, the first book was How to Get Well by Dr. Pavo Airola and the second book was, Survival into the 21st Century by Viktoras P Kulvinskas M.S. The latter mentioned how milk kefir-grains could be used on soy milk to prepare a vegan version of kefir– soy kefir. Both books are dedicated to explain self-help for well-being through fasting, raw food, whole naturally produced food with special focus on vegetarianism, lactic fermented milk and vegetables, sprouts,exercise and relaxation. On reading these books, I soon decided to put my feelers out for kefir grains, for I knew instantly that kefir would be something very worthy to include in my diet and lifestyle. I prayed and asked God something to the effect of, “God, I Am. Oh Majestic Universal Omni-Present Father. When You Are Ready To Give, I shall certainly be ready to receive your mysterious gift of kefir grains.”
My prayer was answered a few years later. While on an extensive grape-only diet or grape-fast in late summer of 1978, I was driving through the local hills for a daily swim at a favourite spot in a gorge. This was situated in the Adelaide hills, South Australia. As I was driving along a windy road well travelled by yours truly, I noticed a man pushing a racing bike with a punctured front tyre. I decided to turn back to ask if he needed assistance, for I was driving a station wagon with ample room to accommodate him and his bike, if the case arose. If he had to walk his bike to suburbia, it would be a long walk on that dry, hot, sunny summer day. Michael as his name turned out, replied that he didn’t need a lift, for his abode was just around the next bend. He asked if I would like to visit his home and have refreshments and to meet his young family, for my stopping and asking if he needed assistance. I agreed.
We stepped into his kitchen of a well secluded wooden home, nicely tucked away in native Australian bushland. I drove past this humble home almost every day, but I was never aware it existed. I met Michael’s wife Mnem, and their toddler, Hugh. In little time, my eyes focused on a jar of what appeared to be coagulated milk, standing in a corner of the kitchen bench. Something urged me to ask, “Is the jar of coagulated milk on your bench top, kefir? by any chance?” Mnem looked surprised and replied, “Yes, it is! But how do you know about kefir?” I replied that although I had not yet seen or tasted kefir, I read about the wonder super-food a few years prior, and I had been on the lookout for kefir grains to make my own kefir ever since. Mnem then asked if I would like to try some kefir. I stated that I would love to just put a few drops of kefir on my tongue, just enough to experience kefir for the first time. I recall keeping the grape cure to myself, for I understood too well that it is not wise to tell anyone that you are fasting. Otherwise it opens up doors, which should be otherwise left closed or avoided.
Folks can do some interesting things to try and test you if they know you are fasting. Lack of understanding and curiosity may get the better of them. In some cases, I feel, is being taken over by negative forces that try and tempt you to eat, possibly to self-gratify the energy that wants to manifest through the person. Take my word from experience and many a person who have fasted and published their experiences, with similar facts. When I have been tempted while fasting or otherwise, prayer is the only cherished tool that has worked for me to keep me on track.
Okay, let me take us to the original topic. Mnem gave me about 1 teaspoon of kefir to try. I can clearly recall the feeling I experienced from that very first tiny taste of real kefir made from raw Goat’s milk, cultured with traditional milk kefir-grains, which originate from the Caucasus Mountains. The experience left me as though I found a long lost friend, an unusual feeling of familiarity came over me. Although the taste was quite unique compared to anything I had tried before. I also experienced a feeling that came from deeper within me, it was as though my body as a whole, was experiencing biofeedback for use of a different term, among my internal physical components. This was followed by an uplifting feeling, my surrounding environment was brighter, with better clarity of mind, and a sense of calmness. Since I was so deep into the extensive fast, and the effects fasting has on all the senses which are markedly sharpened, possibly provided me the opportunity to experience this. Where on the other hand, it is impossible to be conscious of such subtle bio-activity in day-to-day living on a normal diet.
To give another example, and going forward in time to help explain. One month after I broke that extensive grape-only fast and almost back onto a normal diet, I had a first cup of non-sweetened conventional black tea offered by a friend I visited. Within minutes after taking the first mouthful of warm black tea, I had a clear insight of the effect tea has on the mind, the unconscious mind to be more precise. The best way to explain the experienced activity is to imagine the mind as your computer monitor. Let’s say that normal mental activity is 1/3 up your screen. On the top right hand corner of the screen, imagine complete whole words scanning across at a slow, steady rate, scanning from the top right and disappearing in the top left corner of the screen– similar to a news flash displayed as moving text on your television. But the words appear at the top of your screen. I was experiencing clear images of whole, random words scanning across the upper limits, or depths of the mind, which we are not normally aware of.
I am reasonably certain that this was the generation of random thought as words of the unconscious mind stimulated by compounds found in conventional tea. The image of each word was being clearly printed in my mind to be seen just like these very words you, dear reader are reading. The words did not produce a logical sentence, though. I could pick out any word as it scanned across, focus or zoom in on the word, and read the word one by one. In actual fact, we can also see this in another dimension. Instead of viewing it as top and bottom, it could in fact be a matter of depth of mind, the plane of which begins at a conscious level, reaching into an area of the unconscious. But I could not stop the random generation of any particular word, and neither could I choose any particular word to be generated. This was not in my control. “I” was simply the observer of this mental activity.
I had a revelation that if I chose to, I could focus my mind and get into that state of random thought generation of the unconscious. However, as I investigated this possibility, I had an urge to keep in the current state of mind, as it were.
This state, and to use the screen analogy again, was about 1/3 of the way up from the bottom of the screen as explained above– “I” was collective, calm and controlled. I needed to stay with “I” and simply observe as opposed to reaching out or becoming enveloped in the alternate state of mind of random thought. I concluded that certain compounds of conventional tea have the ability to stimulate creative thinking. So, next time you enjoy a cup of conventional tea, think about what’s really happening in the unconscious mind while you sense the pleasure of the aromatic delight of tea on the taste buds at a conscious level.
For me, this was truly a revealing experience. But I was never alone in this. I instantly recalled reading a book on fasting, a section of the book explained how we today, have a certain understanding of the effects that any particular herb has on mind and body. The book explained how centuries ago in China, dedicated Monks would fast for long periods surviving on water alone. They then ingested specific herbs to study the effect of the herb on mind and body, because the Monk’s senses were sharp enough to experience the effect of the herb on mind and body. The results were documented and the knowledge was accumulated. As I’ll explain later, reading about a topic such as the above is one thing, and experiencing it is another, the latter of which gives confirmation to the topic in question.
On that lovely sunny hot summer afternoon, Mnem gave me a portion of her milk kefir-grains, the batch of which has been diligently cultured to this day. When I glanced my eyes on those white, soft slimy kefir grains and held a grain in my hand for the first time, I was in awe. I thought, What an amazing life-form these kefir grains are. I asked Mnem and Michael how they got their kefir grains. Mnem explained that a well travelled friend, a local yoga teacher at the time, was kind enough to give them a portion of his kefir grains some years prior. Apparently, he procured kefir grains during his travels abroad in Sweden, bringing the culture back to Australia.
SO, that’s how kefir was entrusted to me and realised in my life– one step at a time after first reading about kefir grains and then asking God, whom I thank each day for His special gift of Kefir grains.
The wonder-culture kefir-grains and super functional-food kefir, have not only helped multitudes of individuals realise and enjoy improved health, kefir has brought together folks worldwide to form communities to share their experiences and ideas.
Note: To order Dom’s milk kefir-grains, water kefir-grains, Viili, Kombucha or his Music CD, please go here for details.