The first electronic digital computer might have been created here or the quality of its roses might have attained worldwide fame, but there’s more to Bulgaria that we all ought to know. It appears utterly useful to know more about the country where nodding is a tradition and where if a person seemingly responds with an affirmative nod of the head- moving it from top to bottom- it actually means a no.
So what is there about Bulgaria that we didn’t know but ought to? Perhaps, it’s the yogurt. Yes, you read that right. Critics, researchers, writers, locals- all of them- are of the view that the yoghurt was invented here in Bulgaria. They maintain that it was when the nomadic tribes roamed the land, about 4000 years ago, the curdy, delightful fermented food was discovered. If you happen to visit Bulgaria, then you’ll find the country swamped with an overwhelming presence of yoghurt.
It’s everywhere, as simple as that. From food marts where myriad varieties of yoghurt is lined up and stacked in big numbers, to being splashed on falafel wraps to being the very basis of tarator, a local dish, relished by locals and visitors- there’s no denying the fact that yoghurt is national obsession of Bulgaria. Therefore, it isn’t uncommon to note that those in Bulgaria habitually consume anywhere between three to four saucers of yoghurt each day, even as most of us, in different parts of the world are coaxed by elders to include at least minimal quantity of curd in our diets.
That said, so ever-flowing is yogurt in local parlance that historians offer interesting views about how it may have originated in Bulgaria. Since the Balkan lands are one of the few places in the world which naturally have specific bacteria and temperature ranges needed to produce yoghurt, there’s hardly a surprise as to why people think it might’ve been discovered here and only then spread to other parts of the world such as Middle East and Central Asia.
It’s a common fact that it was Bulgaria of all places that introduces Yoghurt to the west, where it became a principal commodity of trade and a burgeoning commercial product. In fact, many to this day believe that there seems to exist some sort of health connection between the staple fermented food of Bulgaria and leading a long life. Back in 1908, Russian biologist and Nobel Prize winner Elie Metchinkoff wrote a book titled, “The Prolongation of Life”, which entails the story of how Bulgarian peasants consumed lots of yoghurt and lived very long lives. This would spark a craziness in the form of widespread consumption in places like France, Switzerland, Germany and, Great Britain where people wanted to try out if having yoghurt did help in any way to prolong lifespans.
But times have changed recently where yoghurt production stands. In earlier times, it was produced using cow and buffalo milk, nowadays, industrialised processes- stricter measures and specialised equipments have been introduced by specialists- who have packaged and re-oriented the product so to speak. But for all intents and purposes, it suffices to say that it was yoghurt and nothing else that separated Bulgaria from rest of the Soviet Bloc. How often has a food product played such an extensive part in shaping the culture of a country, it ought to be said.