Yogurt and I are 'in a relationship'. It's not complicated at all. We are in love.
Deliciously in love.
For ever so long all those lactobacilli and I have been getting along famously.
There's not a day goes by when we don't get it on together.
I can find an excuse to have it off with yogurt, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I have a yogurt sauce on my breakfast plate. A yogurt smoothie at midday. Any number of yogurt excuses at dusk.
Such is my habituation that I have to make my own yogurt which I do as a matter of routine. So the budgetary complication of being addicted to the stuff is transcended. For me, yogurt costs as much -- and as little -- as milk.
So now that I'm swimming in yogurt -- and I could if I wanted to -- I can explore all the possibilities it may offer.
Recently I have been delving into the big wide world of yogurt sauces -- from variations of Tzatziki to salad dressings, and cute blends such as yogurt with Tahina.
This world is huge. So big that rather than wing it I thought I'd explore yogurt with greater consideration.
I have been cooking Middle Eastern food for 40 years and I know my way around the Mediterranean. But when you come to tackle yogurt culture -- not just the lactobacilli but yogurt cuisine and enjoyment -- you have to go Turkish.
After all, yogurt is a Turkish word -- “yoğurt” -- and for Turks, yogurt is a passion.
At the everyday centrepiece of Turkish yogurt consumption is Ayran which is consumed like a soft drink. Ayran is a Lassi but without any sweet ingredients. Just yogurt, water, salt and mint or garlic blended together.
Like a Capuchino, Ayran is frothy.
But Ayran tells us a lot about how yogurt is used in Turkish cuisine -- and that's what I've been trying to get a handle on. If you explore Turkish food -- the savory stuff anyway -- with the taste of yogurt in your mind, there's a delightful sour logic to it all.
I mean all these wonderful dishes almost seem just so many delicious excuses to eat yogurt.
For a yogurt junkie like myself this is one helluva revelation.
Mind you we aren't talking about yogurt according to what's in your supermarket. None of those low fat, fruit flavoured, sugar enhanced concoctions that are passed off as 'healthy'. We're talking plain, often thick, (what's called here) Greek style yogurt with or without the whey.
This is the stuff that is extraordinarily good for you.
My problem is that I can't get too much of it.