I grew up on the large buckets of Dannon plain and vanilla yogurt. I never really liked the plain because it was tart. The vanilla was super sweet and just what a little kid wanted to eat. I am fairly certain it was non-fat yogurt and as a result it was pretty runny and thin, but my brothers and I loved it. Because it was something that we bought at the grocery store, and because as a child I had no concept of history I just assumed that it had been around and as easily accessible forever. One night my father told me a story about a woman who would visit the farm he grew up on.
The story went: When I was little a woman would visit our farm to buy milk. She would walk all the way down the road to our farm house and then ask my father, in broken english, to buy the raw milk from our cows. My father would sell it to her, fill up her buckets, and she would walk back down the road to her house. My father would shake his head and say how strange it was that she wanted all that good milk just to make yogurt. At that time, yogurt was an exotic oddity that that immigrant woman and people like her would make on their own. Not until I was older did I ever taste yogurt. The notion of letting your milk go sour was counter intuitive to the culture I lived in.
This story blew my mind. Something that was so main stream that they had just developed go-gurt or yo-gurt or whatever, something that was literally a daily meal option for me had only become so when my father was a young adult and that my grandfather regarded as a waste of good milk did not seem possible. Even now, it still kind of breaks my brain. Yogurt was something from the old-world that we new-worlders lost. Perhaps it existed in the States, but it didn’t exist in the middle of farmland in Ohio in the early ’60s. Over the past three years, however, we’ve seen yet another shift in our everyday grocery shopping experience: Greek yogurt. It’s everywhere now. The thick creamy, rich, and delicious food stuff is now on a grocery store shelf from the low cost mega stores like HEB, Giant, Stop and Shop, etc. to the high end Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and local organic specialty stores. But now most of us are realizing that we can make greek yogurt right at home
It seems strange that it took America nearly 200 years to regain yogurt and nearly 50 more to figure out that homemade greek yogurt was best. Somehow we were so eager to divorce ourselves from the lands of our ancestry that we didn’t have the discerning to get rid of the bad and keep the good. Get rid of the religious intolerance, Puritans, but keep the tradition of greek yogurt! We live in the great melting pot, but a wee morsel of flavor wouldn’t go amiss. At least we are finally correcting this error and Greek yogurt and homemade greek yogurt is getting the spotlight and regard it deserves.