Food historians generally agree the genesis of yogurt and other fermented milk products was discovered accidentally by Neolithic peoples living in Central Asia. These foods occured naturally due to local climate and primative storage methods. About milk. Yogurt has long been associated with good health and long life. Yogurt became popular in America after WWII.
"Soured milk or curds have surely been consumed by many peoples from the earliest Neolithic times, but little remains as direct proof of this. They were fairly certainly used in Mesopotamia and Palestine, and possibly Egypt, and Pliny later mentions their production by barbarian'tribes."Food in Antiquity: A Survey of the Diet of Early Peoples, Don Brothwell and Patricia Brothwell [Johns Hopkins University Press:Baltimore] 1997, expanded edition (p. 51)
"Milk being highly perishable, of course, a few hours would be enought to start it fermenting in the climate of the Near East. Depending on the temperature and the kind of bacteria in the air, the curds might develop into something pleasant and refershing, or something quite uneatable even by the Neolithic peoples, whose tastes were necessairly less rigid than those of their modern counterparts. The curds might also be either fine or coarse. The finer type was to develop ultimately into the sharp, creamy substance represented today by the yoghurt of the Balkans, the taetta of Scandinavia, the dahi of India. The coarser kind, strained off, would make the first soft, fresh cheese...Whatever the background to the early discoveries, however, curds, cheese, yoghurt and butter all developed into useful ways of preserving milk that was surplus to the people's immediate requirements..."Food in History, Reay Tannahill [Three Rivers Press:New York] 1988 (p. 27-9)
"Yoghurt is one of the fermented milk foods whose origins are probably multiple. It is easy enough to imagine how, in parts of C. or W. Asia, unintended fermentation of milk could have produced something like yoghurt, and that people would have noticed that this would keep for much longer than fresh milk, besides tasting good. There is another advantage which applies particularly to many Asians...Yoghurt is the Turkish name for the product, long since adapted into the English language, no doubt because yoghurt reached W. Europe through Turkey and the Balkans."Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 859)
"There can be few foodstuffs in recent times that have gone through such an orthographic identity crisis as yoghurt. In the days when it was known only as an exotic substance consumed in Turkey and other parts of the Near East (first reported in English in 1625 by Samuel Puchas in his Pilgrimes...) the original Turkish name of this fermented milk, yoghurt, inspired a whole lexicon of spellings...The notion of fermenting milk with bacteria to form a semiliquid food is nothing new, of course. Neolithic peoples of the Near East almost certainly ate a form of yoghurt around 6000 BC, and certainly it was popular in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. It seems to have been take from Persia ot India, and today it is an important ingredient in Indian cookery."An A to Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 373)
"Yogurt, like cheese, was discovered long ago, when wandering herdsmen carrying mik in sheepskin bags noticed that the milk had curdled. People likely discovered both cheese and yogurt in the beginning of the Neolithic era, when they first began to practice milking. Nomadic herdsmen milked their animlas, then carried the milk in pouches made out of sheep's stomachs, the lining of which contains an enzyme called rennin, which curdles milk. The Middle Eastern climate was ideal fo curdling milk: left in the heat, milk curdled in just a few hours. Depending on the degree of heat and the type of bacteria in the environment, the curds would be find and develop into yogurt, or coarse and develop into cheese. Yogurt was most likely discovered by accident. As a product of milk, it was assigned similar properties. Milk and milk products have always been considered nothing short of magical. In fact, it has been suggested that the milk in the biblical phrase milk and honey' referred to yogurt. As soon as the wandering herdsmen discovered the curdled milk, they tasted it and found it to their liking. It was not long before they perceived health benefits that they attributed to the curdled milk...Peasants in the Balkans live a long time, particuarly in Bulgaria, and furthermore, many of them retain their ability to conceived late in life. Both of these abilities have been attributed to the fact that these people eat large quantities of yogurt, and that yogurt apparently has healing properties."Nectar and Ambrosia: An Encyclopedia of Food in World Mythology, Tamra Andrews [ABC-CLIO:Santa Barbara] 2000 (p. 250)
"Yogurt may have been known by the ancient Greeks as pyriate. Andrew Dalby...argues that the Greek physician Galen (c. 130-c. 200) was correct to identify this older term, pyriate, with the oxygala familiar in his own day, which was a form of yogurt and was eaten on its own or with honey. The first unequivocable description of yogurt is found in a dictionary called Divanu luga-i turk, compiled by Kasgarli Mahmut in 1072-1073 during the Seljuk era in the Middle East (1038-1194). Yogurt spread rapidly throughout the Levant, but it hardly penetrated the Western and northern Mediterranean."A Mediterranean Feast, Clifford A. Wright [William Morrow:New York] 1999 (p. 184-5)
"Yoghurt... was known in France as early 1542, when Francois I was suffering from what would now be diagnosed as severe depression. The doctors could do nothing for his listessness and neurasthenia until the Ambassador to the Sublime Porte disclosed that there was a Jewish doctor in Constantinople who made a brew of fermented sheep's milk of which people spoke in glowing terms, even at the Sultan's court. The King sent for the doctor, who refused to travel except on foot; he walted through the whole of southern Europe, followed by his flock. When he finally arrived before Francois I, the latter's apathy had given way to a certain impatience but he still did not feel well. After several weeks of sheep's milk youghurt, the King was cured. The sheep, however, had not recovered from their long walk and caught cold in the air of Paris. Every last one of them died, and the doctor left again, refusing to stay despite the King's offers. He went home, taking the secret of his brew with him. The health of Francois I continued to improve, which was the point of the exercise, and yoghurt was forgotten for nearly four centuries...The koumis of Central Europe is made from fermented mare's milk, but its origin lies in farthest Asia. The barbarian' Huns and Mongols brought it with them. In the past Western Europe made milk-based drinks which were not yoghurt, but were more like kefir or diluted and flavoured curds. Such drinks bear withness to the memory of ancient migrations: they are the beverages of people who did not grow vines and whos only wealth was the flocks they drove ahead of them."History of Food, Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat , translated by Anthea Bell [Barnes & Noble Books:New York] 1992 (p. 119-20)
"[Yogurt] first gained international prominence in the early 1900s when Ilya Metchnikov, a Russian bacteriologist, observed that the life span of Bulgarians, whose diet included the consumption of large quantities of soured milk, was eighty-seven years and beyond."Craig Claiborne's The New York Times Food Encyclopedia, Joan Whitman compiler [Times Books:New York] 1985 (p. 489)
"Turkish immigrants are said to have brought yogurt to the United states in 1784, but its popularity dates only from the 1940s, when Daniel Carasso emigrated to the United States and took over a small yogurt factory in the Bronx, New York. He was soon joined by Juan Metzger, and the two sold their yogurt under the name Dannon (originally Danone, after Daniel Carcasso whose father was a Barcelona yogurt maker). In 1947 the company added strawberry fruit preserves to make the first "sundae-style yogurt." When nutrition promoter Benjamin Gayelord Hauser published an excerpt from his book Live Younger, Live Longer (1950), in the October 1950 issue of Reader's Digest magazine extolling the health virtues of yogurt, the product's sales soared. They leaped again--500 percent from 1958-1968--when so-called health foods were popularized by the counterculture of the 1960s."Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 355)
Debo's Yogurt Dip
2012, Debo, Christine's Pantry. All rights reserved.
1 (32 oz) plain yogurt
6 green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chives
1 tablespoon white pepper
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
Place yogurt in a strainer lined with a paper towel and set the strainer over a bowl. Let the yogurt drain and thicken overnight. In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Stir well. Chill until ready to serve. Serve with chips, carrots or celery. Enjoy!
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