In a world rife with pain, violence, and strife, focusing on shared food traditions can remind us of our collective humanity and refocus us on what we have in common. Yogurt is among the most ancient, truly global foods there is. Modern Israelis and Palestinians eat yogurt. Armenians and Turks eat yogurt. Indians, Pakistanis, Iranians, Iraqis, Greeks, Albanians, Russians, Bulgarians, Americans, Serbs, Canadians, New Zealanders, and Filipinos eat yogurt. And that’s just the smallest slice.
Consider the lunchbox. That’s right: picture it. If you’re not the parent of school-aged kids, you may feel a tug of nostalgia. The box in your mind is cheery and bright, adorned, perhaps, with upbeat stickers, a favorite TV cast, or a superhero saving the world. If you are the parent of school-aged kids, you’ll likely have a different response: sweaty palms, heart palpitations, and cortisol streaming through your blood.
Not to be rude, but there’s something a little scary about jelly donuts. It’s not the donut part. It’s not even the jelly part, to be frank. I just don’t like surprises in my sweets. Don’t ever hand me a box of chocolates without a very clear map of exactly what’s in there, and at which precise coordinates. Also, I call dibs on anything with pistachio, always.But let’s return to jelly donuts.
“It’ll be an adventure,” my husband’s colleague Ketan said, emphasizing the last word, looking me square in the eye. “An adventure,” he repeated, in case I’d missed it. Ketan recently lent us his well-loved RV for an eight-day road trip through Oregon with our kids, and I learned a few things along the way about cooking well while on an RV adventure.
Many of you know Dana Velden from her long-running Weekend Meditation column here on the site. Dana started the column in 2008, and while she recently retired it to move on to other projects — notably, her new book, the calming, lyrical collection Finding Yourself in the Kitchen — we turn to her today for some much-needed holiday perspective. I asked Dana to run us through the five most common emotions as we approach November’s biggest day.
If you’ve ever bought a tub of labneh – that ultra-strained, lightly salty, Middle Eastern yogurt “cheese” – or made it yourself through a process of straining yogurt via suspension or compression, you may have noticed one particular thing: it lasts a really, really long time without getting moldy or otherwise spoiling. It can last for weeks, and still taste as good as when freshly bought or made. This shouldn’t surprise us, right?
I understand why people view yogurt as a substitute. The problem comes when that becomes not just the headline, but the whole story. Because of its acidic properties, its creamy richness, and its body, yogurt does indeed make a fine substitute for other cultured dairy products like sour cream and buttermilk. Fact is, if a pancake or waffle recipe calls for buttermilk and you only have yogurt, you can go ahead and replace it. (Consider thinning it with a bit of milk first.
I grew up eating low-fat yogurt. Not because I was afraid of fat, but because low-fat yogurt dominated the yogurt case. I grabbed it because it was the default option, and I rarely gave the fat content another thought. When Greek yogurt arrived, something changed. Maybe it was marketing, or maybe it was all the press coverage, but suddenly, nonfat Greek yogurt seemed to be the “it” thing.
Since I’m not a dietitian or a dentist or an expert on childhood obesity, I look at yogurt as a food to consume first and foremost for pleasure, and only second, for health. Food as medicine is a popular topic, and a worthy one, but it’s really not my professional or personal focus. So what I’m about to say may surprise you: Despite the above caveat, I still think people who consume large quantities of yogurt should consider stocking up on (or making) big tubs of plain yogurt.
For years, the cereal aisle represented, to me at least, the bounty of the typical American grocery store. I mean, anyone who has lived outside the US for an extended period and then returns to our shores is often shocked at the sheer breadth and scope of offerings – the bright colors, the wide-ranging flavors, the smiling cartoon characters! Cereal was always the food we had in abundance more than any other. Until now. Now it’s yogurt.