Yogurt…A Whine

When I was in college, my roommates and I lived on plain yogurt with honey and Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger Tea with honey. One of my roommates eventually started making her own yogurt, which is surprisingly easy to do. As long as she was doing that, I thought she should also have gotten a beehive, since honey was the real staple of our lives. Later, she also made her own beer. We had a giant (say, 33 gallon) green plastic trash can shoved into one corner of our tiny kitchen where the beer incubated, and it was not to be disturbed on pain of death.
Of course we ate other food too when we could afford it, including, on occasion, steak shoplifted by the other roommate. I lived in fear that she would be caught, and that I and the other roommate would be charged as accessories for helping to eat it.
But I digress. In those days…the early 1970’s, yogurt was just yogurt. These days, you can’t throw a rock in the dairy aisle without hitting a container of some variety of yogurt.
First to come was the “fruit-on-the-bottom” stuff. I thought this was wonderful! Saved you the time spent on adding your own honey or fruit. Never mind that there were only miniscule pieces of fruit on the bottom, which were combined with syrup of the appropriate fruit flavor.
And then…and then…I saw an episode of 60 Minutes (I think) which revealed that the syrup is not made out of fruit at all. It’s a combination of chemicals designed to mimic the taste of the fruit. From a scientific perspective, it was very interesting to learn that chemists can reproduce any taste that is detectable by human taste buds. That’s nice. I quit eating the stuff, even if it never had killed me before. It wasn’t the taste, it was the idea, kind of the way some people feel about eating snails.
So I decided I would go back to eating plain yogurt with my own honey or fruit added. But guess what? You can no longer get plain yogurt in a single serving size. You have to buy it in a quart size, which would be useful if you were a Greek restaurant making Tzatziki sauce. The closest you can get is “vanilla”, and I don’t want that.
Which brings me to the latest rage–Greek yogurt. It’s smoother and creamier, supposedly, and less tart. Which is why I don’t like it. I like that mouth-puckering feel of the yogurt I got imprinted on in college, like the sensation of eating a lemon. (I like eating lemons too.)
But I have saved my final whine for the brand known as Activia. It seemed like a good idea. Yogurt with digestive (probiotic) benefits. Except the manufacturer’s claims (Dannon) aren’t true, and anyway, it would make no difference to me even if it cured cancer, unless you could inject it. The taste is utterly revolting, and I can’t think of an adequate way to describe it. It’s like yogurt, but with an aftertaste I imagine you’d get if a dead rat had been mixed in.
I love yogurt, but I’m not going to make my own, and I’m not going to buy a quart of it at a time. So I’ve been doing without. I may check out some of the more frou-frou groceries that I don’t frequent (Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s), now that we have them in my town. There’s also Earth Fare and an independent co-op, New Leaf Market.
I wonder if I should have posted a warning to Vegans? Milk and honey discussed here. Eventually I will whine about Vegans too.

6 responses to “Yogurt…A Whine

  1. You had me curious here, and I wondered whether you could still get individual pot sized plain yogurt here in our supermarkets, and it seems you can, but it’s certainly harder to find. Plenty in the bigger pots as you say! I like yogurt too, and I do also really like the Greek yogurt. My grandmother used to sometimes just stir dried mint leaves into plain yogurt, so it wasn’t sweet, but lovely and refreshing – I haven’t had that for years, but now I’ve thought of it again, I want it!

  2. Greek yogurt may be all the rage for it’s extra protein etc, but the smell is awful and the taste takes more getting used to than I’m willing to invest. Even the dog was iffy on licking out the container.

  3. Yogurt with mint leaves! That never occurred to me, but it sounds wonderful. I hope you’ve been inspired, Vanessa, to have it again.

  4. Great article Steve!

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