07 June 2009

Yoghurt: A family history

Ever wondered about Dannon yoghurt in the US - or Danone as it is called elsewhere?

Haaretz.com offered a "yoghurt timeline" explaining the genealogy of the company.

Dr. Isaac Carasso was the son of a prominent Jewish family in Salonica (under the Ottomans in the early 1900s). Another son, Emanuel, was a Young Turk leader.

In 1912, when the Balkan War intensified, Carasso moved his family to Barcelona, where many of his patients had digestive problems.

As was customary in the Balkans (and in the Middle East), people ate lots of yoghurt. He even began importing it from Bulgaria and Paris. In Spain it was sold as a medication in pharmacies.

In 1919, the doctor opened a small manufacturing plant to produce yoghurt, naming it after his son Daniel's nickname, Danone.

The son grew up, inherited the business and turned it global. Daniel died recently at 103 and the company is now marking its 90th anniversary.

In Iran, yoghurt (mast, in Farsi) was always the preferred remedy for stomach problems. The good bacteria in the yoghurt was believed to replace the "queasy tummy" bad type. The older generation believed that a bowl of yoghurt, followed by vodka (to sterilize the stomach, I presume!) was the right treatment. While I have no personal experience with the vodka treatment, the yoghurt works.

Now that it is getting warmer, it's time to be careful if you are enjoying picnics and outdoor activities. Follow health guidelines about keeping things cold (particularly those foods with mayonnaise and dairy products) so they won't make you or your guests sick. Keep lots of those blue ice packs handy in the freezer and pack them with your picnic lunches.

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