Yogurt and worldwide habits

Yogurt, the food of ancient nomads


Yogurt exists in countless guises, as a nutritious food, a moisturiser or remedy for burns and psoriasis. It was probably invented by Neolithic people in central Asia around 5000 BC, when the first milk-producing animals were domesticated. They most likely found out how to ferment milk by chance. By 2000 BC, the diets of half the humans on earth included dairy products. Genghis Khan fed his army on fermented mares’ milk.

The word yogurt comes from Turkish, indicating that it arrived in Europe from the Ottoman Empire. It was brought to Vienna by the nomadic farmers of the Balkans and the Turkish army.

Ilya Mechnikov, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist at the Institut Pasteur, was the first to publish research on the potential benefits of yogurt. The bacteria that cause fermentation can prevent stomach ulcers.

The first yogurt factory was opened in Barcelona in 1919, named Danone or “little Daniel” after the owner’s son. Yogurt production is a complex process and today’s yogurt is a far cry from the curds eaten by the Mongol hordes. However it is also possible to make it at home using boiled and cooled milk mixed with a few spoonfuls of real natural yogurt and then left to ferment for 24 hours. It can be eaten just as it is, in soups, with pureed fruit or as the basis of a delicious tzatziki.

Source: Courrier International, December 2014 (in french)

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