Several years ago I had occasion to hear a very unusual story about yogurt from one of the oldest of Chicago’s old-school German chefs. I was working on an article on food preservation at the time, and nobody but nobody preserves food like a old German, my friends. We were poring over the technical details of his grandmother’s fruit preserves, pickles, sausages, cheeses and the like, when suddenly he digressed onto the subject of yogurt. He told me that German housewives once believed that the trick to good yogurt was to leave milk out under the house eaves on a warm spring evening when there was a storm rolling in. Somehow, it was thought, the combination of milk, moisture, temperature and lightning all combined to make yogurt cultures grow.
I’ve looked high and low for someone else who’s heard this story before, and can give me some clue as to where/how it evolved. I mean, lightning? What the heck does that have to do with the price of Acetobacter in orientalis? If anyone out there can shed any light on this, please do send me an email.