Is 'yogurt' an ugly word?

Feb 22, 2012

I think so.  Just look at it: Yogurt. Call it a typographical phobia but I'm not eatin' anything that looks like that word.   Even its etymology is not encouraging. 

It comes from archaic Turkish meaning "to be curdled." And it's not just the appearance of the word that puts me off.  I once had a co-worker who stirred a container of the stuff compulsively – Pock-scrape-gloop-gloop. Pock-scrape- gloop-gloop– for a full 30 minutes every lunchtime.  All that prevented me from suggesting he put that yogurt in a place impenetrable by solar radiation was that he was too large for harsh language.

But just because I won't eat the stuff doesn't mean I won't acknowledge that it's probably pretty good for you.   Yogurt eater Shirali Musilimov, a shepherd from Azerbaijan, was alleged to be 168 years old at the time of his death in 1973. Certain yogurt companies have made much of this and similar stories.

I'm a little skeptical of the longevity claims, but there seems to be no doubt that the stuff is good for you in a lot of ways. My Food for Thought pard, Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson, enumerates them in this week's thrilling episode.  Just click "Listen.

"The shelf life of the average trade book is somewhere between milk and yogurt."

– Calvin Trillin

Food for Thought” is a weekly KPLU feature covering the world of food as well as the thinking that goes into it. The feature is published here and airs on KPLU 88.5 every Wednesday during Morning Edition and All Things Considered.