Friday, November 19, 2010

Yogurt: A chacun son goût

photo by Erwan Frotin

I had forgotten some of the less desirable gifts of a lengthy course of antibiotic.  Let's just say that Fred is keeping me well supplied with low fat plain yogurt, the only kind I will eat.

That's not true.  I think there is nothing finer than Greek yogurt with pungent little sides -- a coarse chop of cucumber, parsley, green onion, garlic and dill (or a good commercial Tzatziki dip); a dense dark honey; and  cherries or coconut with crystallized ginger.  I have a friend who gets a rabid look, juts out her foreign bony elbows, and carefully sprinkles kosher salt and habanero pepper slivers over a layer of Greek yogurt spread on a plate to a thickness of about 3/4 of an inch.  [You'd best not bother her for a while... and it is not recommended that you flit about crying "caga fuego," either, no matter how funny you think you are.]

I actually prefer a bitter yoghurt, but that fact might only be interesting, or even appropriately mentioned, were this a yogurt blog, which is a thought... Hmmm.  A collection of odes, a serial novel situated in a sunny Mediterranean isle...  Anyway, loving the tang of things, I prefer a Greek yogurt of sheep's milk, which can be hard to locate, believe it or not, here in the deep, deep wilds of Tête de Hergé (très décédé, d'ailleurs).  It's a legal thing, having something to do with how sheep cultivation is prohibited west of Our Sole Central Alp, known locally simply as "The Alp."  To complicate matters, there is some daunting algorithm in force that determines yogurt export-import ratios, and expresses the rare availability of this Hellenic dairy treat according to the Chinese lunisolar calendar. 

Sometimes I get a headache and simply cannot cope. 

Last year, Fred spent a few nights sacked out on the horsehair divans in the Haddock Reception Hall.  I know, I know, it hardly seems possible that such a refined clan would invest in antique horsehair furniture, but upon researching the history of the room, the apparent detour from tastefulness was justified as actually being a clever choice. I gave a cursory explanation in a piece called, appropriately, War and Peace: I Have the Power When I'm in the Shower:

Have a seat on the red horsehair loveseat over yonder. It's one of the few Victorian Pieces in The Manor. {guffawandsnicker} Go figure, huh? Captain Haddock's more recent ancestors were a wily people, a sang froid of common sense running in their blue, blue veins.

The space that we are in today served them as Reception Hall during the American Civil War, and for roughly 60 years afterward. Back then, it was worth their Snooty While to allow a more plebeian sort of individual to attend the legendary Marlinspike Hall Afternoon Teas.

But a few changes were necessary, so as to honor their actual intent.

Horsehair furniture. Horsehair as stuffing, horsehair as "fabric." *Small* furniture of unwieldy proportion, shape, and style. American furniture! To provide the necessary Provenance of Snoot, most of it was purchased from a small dealer specializing in the paraphernalia and artifacts of Abraham Lincoln.

We're talking austere. And sturdy.

But mostly? We're talking un-freaking-comfortable! Somehow, some way, the earthier visitors to The Manor found that the rich folks' furniture variously pinched their derrières, squeezed their oversized working class thighs, and often made them break out in an itchy rash. Slowly but surely, word spread, and the afternoon receptions thinned out, freeing up The Haddocks for their beloved Tea Time Mahjong Tournaments.
Oh!  Why was Fred banished to La Recepción and its discomforts?  The man actually brought home -- and I still shudder at the memory -- nonfat Greek yogurt.  That was when we first made the acquaintance of Abbot Truffatore because nothing short of monastic couples' counseling was going to restore our relationship.

Anyway, to preserve the notion of Greek yogurt as an occasional treat, I restrict myself to a generic supermarket version of plain low fat blended yogurt that I usually doctor with vanilla extract and eat as I read the novel du jour at the end of the day.

Which I am off to do, right now.  [God, I love my optimism!]

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