Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Yogurt Etiquette


Before I write about eating yogurt, I have to decide how to spell it.  Yogurt - yoghurt - yoghourt and even yojurt are all possibilities but as the word comes from the Turkish yoğurt, I'm sticking to the first-mentioned option. As a foreigner it is easy to make a big faux-pas in the eating and serving of yogurt, I bet many of you are committing this gaffe every day.  YOU MUST NEVER SERVE YOGURT WITH A METAL SPOON.  Many a time, as I started to dip into a virgin pot of yogurt with a large metal serving spoon, my arm has been caught mid swipe.  Only wooden spoons should plunge into yoğurt as any hint of metal will split the curds and release liquid. Koreans also believe that metal kills the bacteria and spoils the taste.  I've tried to find some scientific proof to back up this widely held (in Turkey) belief but haven't had any success.  The journal Flavour conducted a small study that found that yogurt tasted better from a light plastic spoon than a heavy one which is neither here nor there regarding wooden spoons, so I have conducted my own experiment and I'm siding with Turkish housewives. Yogurt stays thicker for longer if you scrape servings uniformly from the top with wood rather than metal.



While we are on the subject, metal shouldn't  be used for honey either and if you are lucky enough to have caviar to present - only a mother of pearl, gold, animal horn or a wooden spoon will do. (I'm hoping someone will read this and explain why as the caviar comes out of a metal tin).
If you now feel the need to increase your wooden spoon collection you can buy handmade in most markets or take a drive around Turkish villages and ask for  the basket maker as they usually whittle spoons as a sideline.


19 comments:

  1. B to B, Oh sister! Am I red-faced or what? Here we are, big fans of yoğurt and now I know we've been eating it all wrong all these years. Well, at least you haven't found scientific evidence that it kills the bacteria or otherwise harms it, but since we're usually honorers of such traditional beliefs about cuisine, I'm predicting we'll have those wooden spoons deployed in our kitchen soon. Thanks for the tip!

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    1. Wooden spoons look so much better, don't they.

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  2. oh this is a very entertaining post. I'm going to share this with my "modern" Turkish friend who makes the best homemade yogurt. She will for sure have something to say about it, and I think I'll bring her a new set of wooden spoons :) I love the wooden spoons/utensils...pretty much all I use in my kitchen nowadays. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Please let us know what your friend says. Thanks for joining in with the discussion

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  3. This is news to me too. I have never heard this. Thanks for sharing this info. I will be sure to use my wooden spoon next time.

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    1. I'm wondering how you, as a Turkish gelin, managed not to get your hand slaped for using a metal spoon.

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  4. I didn't know that, very informative! better make use of my wooden spoons more often!:) loved the wooden spoons here xx Ozlem

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    1. If you don't know this Özlem, it makes me wonder if it is an Aegean custom. Can you ask your mother?

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  5. thank you so much - one more thing to add to my encyclopaedic knowledge base of useless information! ;-D

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  6. I been eating it incorrectly for years so now I must make haste and try and locate a suitable wood spoon somewhere.

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    1. email me an address and I will send you a couple

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  7. Oh dear. We use teaspoons for our Petits Filou and our honey is in a squeezy bottle!

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  8. If the yogurt is pasteurized or homogenized (eg. supermarket) then there is no bacteria to kill. Homemade yogurt is full of the right bacteria and quite often, if you buy from the lady with the cow, she heats her milk in stainless. The cheese man makes his curds in stainless. So my thoughts about all of this is that the old wooden spoon makers made up this story when metal spoons made their debut.

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    1. Thanks for commenting Frank, I'm beginning to think that it is not about the metal and more about the sharp side of the metal spoon cutting through the yogurt, rather than the blunt edge of a wooden spoon. More research is needed.

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  9. We were almost chased out of a Turkish town by an old lady selling wooden spoons. What kind of a wife was I that didn't want to buy rugs and wooden spoons for our campervan she shouted! We escaped - just about...

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    1. If that was around Lake Bafa, we've all been chased by those women.

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  10. Oh dear - I love yogurt but have a total phobia about putting anything wooden in my mouth. It's worse with ...even writing the word is tricky...lollysticks (retch) but as long as it is OK to EAT with a metal spoon, I promise to only use the wooden one to take fresh yogurt from the pot. (Who am I kidding? My yogurt comes in plastic pots from the supermarket, but I do envy you having access to the real thing!)

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