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Turkish yogurt

Also spelled yaourt, yogourt or yoghourt, yogurt is very popular in France. Although known in Roman times, it only made its first known re-appearance in France in 1542 when King François I was suffering from a stomach ache. Suleyman the Magnificent, his ally, sent over a Turkish doctor who cured him with sheep's milk yogurt. But the doctor refused to reveal the secret of how it was made.

French yogurt history picked up again when Pasteur discovered the micro-organisms at the origin of fermentation. By the 1920s, you could find yogurt for ill children in pharmacies—made by Isaac Carasso, a Jew from Thessaloniki who immigrated to Barcelona and produced the first commercial yogurts in a company he named after his son Daniel, or Danón in Catalan, or Danone as the son called it when he relocated the company to France.

dairy aisle in a French supermarket

The dairy aisles in the big French supermarkets bulge with a bewildering array of yogurt choices, from simple plain (nature) to thick strained (égoutté) yaourt grec, both kinds in dozens of flavours, along with other specialities such as Danone’s probiotic yogurt Activa and probiotic yogurt drink Actimel.

Among the many other yogurt-like products you’ll find petits filous (‘little rascals’, a kiddie favourite) and a similar drink.

Danone, among others, also makes plant and soy-based ‘dairy’ products under its Alpro label.

Useful expression

chanter en yaourt (‘to sing in yogurt’) to sing gibberish, pretending to know the words; especially noticeable when the French bands at village fêtes sing in English

Cheese and dairy

Text © Dana Facaros

Images by Dana Facaros, Rainer Zenz assumed (based on copyright claims).