Why the Greeks are better cooks than the French

The New York Times recently carried an interesting article on yogurt in the U.S. The first commercial yogurt was introduced in 1942 by Dannon, but Americans wouldn’t eat it. Finally, in desperation, Dannon started adding fruit and sugar to its yogurt, thus making yogurt production a viable enterprise. I’ve never liked these sweet, fruity yogurt snacks, but I guess I’m just out-of-synch with the rest of the population (which doesn’t particularly surprise me). :-)

Anyway, in recent years, plain yogurts have gotten more popular, especially Greek yogurt, so much so that FAGE is even going to open a U.S. plant. Yay! Michael Symon, chef at a Mediterranean restaurant, says that “Greek yogurt gives you that rich mouth feel that a butter gives, but it brings a lot to the table – tartness, acidity, and it makes a sauce a lot more complex. That’s why the Greeks are better cooks than the French.”

Read the article for more info. It includes several recipes that use yogurt. Warning! Not all of the recipes are Greek; there are some barbarian recipes in there too!

NYT Article: Greek Revival

Thanks for the article, Judi!


  1. Comment by maria verivaki

    yes, too barbarian for my family’s tastes…

  2. Comment by Peter

    Yay…for Greek yogurt and Michael Symon…I wonder if in fact he’s Greek?

  3. Comment by lulu

    Maria, most of those would be a hard sell for me too. (Not the cheesecake though!)

  4. Comment by lulu

    Peter, the article didn’t say. I found a wikipedia article on him, and it didn’t say either. I found his blog, which despite being called Symon Says, also didn’t say.

  5. Comment by Sam Sotiropoulos

    Just yesterday evening I made a wonderful sole in a lemon-yogurt, wine and mushroom sauce that was phenomenal.

    M. Symon is right, Greeks are better cooks than the French!

    Thanks for posting this Lulu. :-) I guess it’s time I posted my lemon yogurt cake recipe… coming soon.

  6. Comment by lulu

    Ooooh, Sam, what about the sole recipe? That sauce sounds divine!

  7. Comment by Ivy

    Wow Lulu you gave me a huge smile on my face when I read “other barbarian recipes”. I agree about the yoghurt cheesecake.

  8. Comment by lulu

    Ivy, I’m feeling the need for a blog to put non-Greek recipes on, and I’m thinking about calling it “Barbarian Kitchen.” That’s why that word was in my head. The thing is, I don’t know if that name would be understandable to most non-Greeks; it’s maybe kind of an inside joke.

  9. Comment by Laurie Constantino

    It’s a great name and you could clear up any obscurity with a subtitle. Or you could do what Peter/Kalofagas did, which is expand the name of his current blog to include other than Greek foods. Seems like it would be much easier to have one blog than two.

    As for Michael Symon, his mom is Greek, so he’s half. I’ve watched him on Iron Chef and like him a lot. His first restaurant Parea was Greek. So happy to hear FAGE is opening a plant here – the Greeks truly make superior food.

  10. Comment by lulu

    Laurie, that’s true, a subtitle or tag line can explain a lot. Thanks for the input, I really appreciate it as I’ve been wrestling with what to do and what to name it if I do it. My original intent was to have one big food blog, but I found I was much more inspired by doing Greek food specifically, hence Mama’s Taverna. I probably should just stick all my food stuff here on this one blog, but I’m totally neurotic, actually make that NEUROTIC!, about definitions and classifications, so…

  11. Comment by abravanel

    Trivia: Dannone was founded by a Jewish Greek of Thessaloniki named Carasso. He had emmigrated in Spain where he established the yogurt company as a pharmaceutical natural remedy and after the Civil War he moved to France.

  12. Comment by lulu

    Very interesting, Abravanel. Thanks for visiting!

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