Yogurt is one of those products that owes its popularity to various health movements. in 1908, a Russian biologist by the name of Dr. Elie Metchnikoff, wrote The Prolongation of Life. In this book, Dr. Metchnikoff documented that a certain type of white blood cell known as phagocytes ingest and destroy various dangerous bacteria. He later won a Nobel Peace Prize for this discovery.
Dr. Mechnikov then popularized the idea of lactic acid-producing bacteria as a means of increasing life span. Supporting his theory, he offered up the heavy yogurt eating and long living Bulgarians as evidence for his hypothesis. He traveled Europe, stating that eating yogurt would prolong your life, and quicker than you can say “Immortality”, yogurt became a cause celebre on the Continent and later the world. Yogurt was the antioxidant of its time.
Yogurt has been around far longer than the 20th century. Around the time milk started to become prevelant, yogurt was discovered, probably when staying out in the sun for a titch to long, long enough for the lactose to ferment into lactic acid. It’s this acid that gives yogurt its bite.
This cultured milk product was probably discovered in more than one area of the world, as it’s fairly easy to stumple upon soured milk (whether it be horse, cow or otherwise). India has a strong history of dairy products, and Persia/Iran has its own take on the product. Kefir is a fermented milk drink originating in the Caucasus. Heck, even Genghis Khan is said to have drank a brew called kumiss, made from horse milk.
Of course we Americans would probably blanch at the idea of drinking a glass of yogurt. We prefer ours with pectin or gelatin, thank you very much.
If you haven’t guessed, I’m moving on from milk and heading over to yogurt. Expect a few posts and recipes based on the stuff over the coming weeks.