In the 21st century, more and more people turn to healthier diets including the so-called superfoods. Drinking a spinach smoothie or eating a quinoa salad has become the norm these days, with influencers boasting about their miraculous benefits on their social media platforms. Yet my favourite superfood is Bulgarian Yogurt.
Bulgarian yogurt has well-known health benefits. It is an important source of calcium for strong bones, with the added benefit of improving the digestive system and strengthening the immune system of the body.
The yogurt is the result of a tiny bacteria known as Lactobacillus bulgaricus, first discovered by the Bulgarian scientist Stamen Grigorov in the early 1900s. This little-known bacteria helps the fermentation of the fresh milk provided the right room temperature. Yogurt has been around since ancient times, but the way it is made has not changed in centuries.
How did Japan fall in love with Bulgarian yogurt?
According to one source, it all started when a representative of Meiji, a private Japanese company, visited the Bulgarian Pavilion at Osaka Expo in 1970. Later, in 1973, Meiji will launch their best-seller plain Bulgarian yogurt after acquiring the naming rights to the Bulgarian brand. It was also Japan’s first plain yogurt. These days the yogurt has reached a huge following with a massive 42% market share in Japan. It is the top yogurt brand in the country since 1996 and it is also licensed by their Ministry of Health. Meiji claims the flavour is authentic as it is derived from a genuine live culture brought from Bulgaria. Research conducted by the company found benefits to gut health and bowel movement.
A perfect bowl of yogurt
Yogurt has many applications in modern cooking. Starting from the simple breakfast cereals topped with honey and fruits to the refreshing summer soup, more popular in Bulgaria as Tarator (Таратор). Tarator is made with yogurt, diced cucumber, dill, and garlic. There is a salad version too with the same ingredients known as Snejhanka (Снежанка). Yogurt is also used as an ingredient in another traditional Bulgarian dish made with filo pastry and known as Banitza (Баница).
Let us all raise a glass of yogurt to a healthy lifestyle!