When I received the email from Karen on Monday saying this week’s topic was “fermentation”, I was eating yoghurt with mango for breakfast. And yesterday, when I realised that Tuesday was almost over and I hadn’t written my post about fermentation, I was drinking a Vietnamese yoghurt coffee. It seems that in my life, as in my mind, fermentation is inextricably associated with yoghurt.
So here are some thoughts about yoghurt.
Good, thick, full-fat, sugar-free yoghurt is really difficult to find in Hanoi. The French influence here has resulted in a surplus of awful, sugary, fat-free, flavoured yoghurts, which the French love for some reason, and which also probably transport very easily, since their sugar content means they can never go off. The refrigerated aisle of individual “dairy desserts” (like, little crème caramels and rice puddings) is one of the largest in a French supermarket. Surprising, non? It certainly was to me, with my Australian reverence of “European-style yoghurt”.
There is one café here which makes its own yoghurt, which is famous for being Catherine Deneuve’s favourite haunt while she was filming Indochine, one of my most loathed French movies. Apparently she loved the yoghurt, but I find it strangely gelatinous.
But also thanks to the French influence, you can actually get fromage blanc here, which is one of my most favourite foods, and like yoghurt, but better. We buy the one with 7% fat, and it tastes like cream sent from the gods.
In summary, the yoghurt situation in Hanoi is complex, much like my relationship with the French.
Another thing about yoghurt: a friend of ours told us how she had chronic thrush and the old yoghurt trick just wasn’t cutting it, so she investigated other, baseless, miracle cures, including a recommendation for garlic. As instructed, she inserted a garlic clove right up her moot. It did not cure the thrush. Instead, it got completely stuck there for many days and resulted in her entire body emanating a garlic odour, and her mouth tasting like garlic. Isn’t the human body an amazing thing? Who knew that a taste could travel backwards up into your mouth like that? Thank goodness other downstairs odours don’t do the same.
And that is my post on fermentation.