Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

yoghurt a remarkable example of a food from Asia which succeeded during the 20th century in invading the diet of the western world to such an extent that it has become a staple.

Yoghurt is one of the fermented milk foods whose origins are probably multiple. It is easy enough to imagine how, in parts of C. or W. Asia, unintended fermentation of milk could have produced something like yoghurt, and that people would have noticed that this would keep for much longer than fresh milk, besides tasting good. There is another advantage which applies particularly to many Asians. Yoghurt is much more digestible than milk for those who suffer from lactose intolerance—a common condition in Asia but rare among Europeans. The reason for this is that the fermentation which produces yoghurt converts most of the lactose in milk to lactic acid.