Big thank you from

The popularity of yoghurt

By the Rambler 01/02/2002

JUDGING by the area of shelf space yoghurt enjoys in supermarkets, this particular item of dairy products sells well.

According to my dictionary it is a 'semi-solid sourish junket-like or curd-like food prepared from milk fermented by added bacteria'.

According to some health authorities, it is gut-friendly, in that it provides bacteria where they are most needed to aid digestion.

Skimmed milk which Jordan's the pig producers collect in giant tankers from dairies, has also appeared on the shelves of shops as a health food. 'Better than full cream milk' some say.

I am a bit cynical because I grew up on a farm where only home-made butter and full-cream milk were given house room. My mother would have been apologetic to guests if, as happened occasionally, all the cows were dry, and she had nothing but creamery butter for tea. A pale substitute for real country butter in the estimation of rural butter-making experts.

Yoghurt closely resembles the 'bottoms of crocks' which exhausted, sweating, farm workers, home from a hay meadow once yearned for to quench their thirst.

Every farmhouse dairy used to have a form, that is a low wooden bench, to hold crocks of cream intended for the churn.

The ubiquitous crocks were coloured black-and-tan and held about one-and a-half gallons. They were earthenware (made near Stewartstown) and fitted with a home-made wooden lid.

Milk maturing, ie souring, was stored in them, in a cosy corner near the hearth in winter. In due course, the cream was poured off into the churn and a sour junket-like residue was left in the crock. This, in my memory, closely resembled yoghurt.

I remember an amusing episode in my childhood when a crock of cream was spilled by unruly teenagers who were 'codacting' at a 'hooley'. (There's two good 'Ulsterisms' for you! Circa 1930).

Some Yankee relatives were holidaying at a cousin's farmhouse - cousins of the Yanks and cousins of ours.

They had a car and we had none. A going-away party was organised and the tourists came and collected my brothers and I.

When we reached the host's house - her name was Margaret - there was an air of chill and gloom. Margaret had a face on her that would have stopped a clock - tearful actually.

"What's wrong Margaret?" our driver exclaimed. "They spilled the crock" Margaret growled. "Did they spill the top?", the Yank queried.

"Naw," replied Margaret, "they spilt the bottom and put back the top".

Poor Margaret, a whole week's cream had gone and a butter famine loomed. And her with a houseful to feed. No joke.

It is well the milk hadn't belonged to a restaurant which is currently advertised in the press.

I took some tourists there at the week end and we paid through the nose for a small glass of milk.

We specified (small) and ordered from the wine waitress. When we got the bill there was a series of 'dittos' which puzzled us. It emerged that the milk had been itemised as 'dash of milk @ 25p, ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto', total +£1.25!'

My mother sold milk in the 1920s and the small glass we got would have cost less than one old penny. The moral is, don't order milk from a wine waitress. The restaurant deserves top rating for qualify of food, service and accommodation, but somebody spoiled it for a dash of milk. 'Dash' must be an 'EU' measure. It is new to me.

My guests included the President of a prestigious National Trade Institute who has wide experience of the hotel trade. He was not amused. As a new customer, neither was I!!
By the Rambler.

Ulster Star