Monday, June 18, 2018

The history of a habit

If a medical researcher ever discovers that yoghurt is carcinogenic then my husband is doomed.
His passion for yoghurt began in 1971, when he began to dabble in hazelnut yoghurt, made by Ski. He was just becoming hooked on the stuff, and therefore thinking that he ought to stop eating it, when Ski ran a special offer. If you sent them six yoghurt carton lids they would send you a teaspoon with a long handle, a design which enabled the yoghurt fancier to scrape the last trace of yoghurt from the distinctive cartons, which were shaped like miniature cooling towers. Dave cannot resist a bargain, nor can he resist interesting tools, and what is a long handled spoon, after all, but a tool?
Unfortunately he had never heard the saying "He needs a long spoon who sups with the Devil." All too soon we had twelve long handled teaspoons; and Dave was a yogaholic.
When we moved to Sheffield two years later, he switched to natural yoghurt. He says he abandoned the hazelnut variety because it was too fattening, but I know it's because it only comes in 150gram cartons. Longley Farm Natural Yoghurt is available in larger cartons and is powerful stuff - a Class A yoghurt that gives him a high like no other.
At one point he decided he was spending too much money on yoghurt and started to make his own, first in the warming section of our Rayburn and then in a yoghurt maker. But soon he could not make it in sufficient quantities, and we had to supplement it with Longley Farm Natural Yoghurt from the deli down the road. Reintroduced to LFNY, Dave remembered its superiority and he gave up making his own.
By 1979, he was slurping a 450gram carton of LFNY daily. I had to go to the deli every day, because if I bought more than one carton, then more got eaten.
When we went on our annual holiday to Northumberland, the week was taken up in
the pursuit of LFNY. Visits to the beach, tours round castles and boat trips to the Farne Islands were interleaved with yoghurt hunts.
We found a source in a Bamburgh greengrocers, and another - though only in small cartons - at a caravan site near Dunstanburgh Castle. But they didn't have enough. There must be dealers in Northumberland with supplies big enough to feed Dave's habit but we never managed to map out a definitive, reliable network. In the end, we resorted to buying a week's supply from the deli and taking it with us.
By 1984 Dave had persuaded the deli to supply him with catering cartons of LFNY. Each of these cartons, made of tough white plastic, with a bright orange screw top lid, has an integral handle. A good job, as these caterers cartons contain 5 kilograms of the stuff.
In 1994, when we moved to the Peak District it was my job to ask the man in the village shop if he could get us two 5 kg cartons every week. He made no comment. He was a discreet man. He got it from the driver every Tuesday afternoon and stashed it safely in the bottom shelf of his fridge behind the counter, away from prying eyes.
Dave moved onto consuming three catering cartons of LFNY a week. Every Monday morning the last carton was cut in half and licked clean (and not by the cat) and he had more than 24 hours to wait for the next delivery on Tuesday afternoon. Sometimes I would make an emergency dash down to Bakewell's Monday market on my bike, where it was possible to buy LFNY, though the price was high.
Sometimes the Tuesday delivery failed to arrive and I scoured the Derbyshire Dales for shops that stayed open late and stocked LFNY, an odd 150 gm carton, the normal size for normal people.
 If on a Tuesday we were not home until after the village shop had closed, the shop man swathed a carton in carrier bags and hid it behind the old milk churn outside his shop, for us to collect.
At Christmas when the shop was closed and Dave had to pre-buy his LFNY in bulk, and yet I also needed extra fridge space for family entertaining, he kept his extra cartons cool by floating them in the water barrel behind the shed. One year he put them in the pond, tethering the carton handles to the garden seat.

A grandson wheeling the Christmas yoghurt

When he was working away from home and staying in hotels, the LFNY went with him. The 5 kg carton is too big to fit in the minibar, so he filled the bath with cold water and stood the carton in there to keep it cool.
You might think that I am an indulgent woman. Not true. If you could have seen Dave on Monday nights vainly searching the fridge for a hidden cache of liquid snow, your heart would have melted too.
And if you could have seen his pleasure on a Tuesday afternoon when he unscrewed the orange cap and discovered that this week the LFNY was prime vintage, so thick that it was difficult to shake it through the spout, so thick that it came out with a glug and swirled in the dish, and kept its shape, just like egg whites whisked for meringue… you would understand.
In the days of the LFNY 5 kg cartons, I planted my sweet pea seeds in adapted ones, filled with compost and Dave would say: "Good job I eat yoghurt when you need so many sweet pea pots."
"Yes Dave, only £19.80 a week. What a bargain."
(Actually, I still use them for my sweet peas so maybe it was a bargain.)

But times have changed. Dave is more careful of his health and has switched from the delectable full fat LFNY to low fat Sainsbury’s yoghurt, and he eats 5 or 6 450gm cartons a day.
Here's the evidence.

Lux and yoghurt cartons

Cecilia and yoghurt cartons

Published here with kind permission of News International.
©             Sue Hepworth/Times Newspapers 2018


marmee said...

oh how this resonates with me! I am constantly thankful that I dont smoke or drink spirits because goodness knows, I only have to do something twice to be addicted to the action or the substance! I used to freeze and pack my favourite wholewheat seedloaf in cardboard so that I could take it with me to where we stayed in Nigeria. Once there I allowed myself one slice at a time, savoured, enjoyed and treasured! I drank coffee with cremora in for years and years and recently decided for health reasons to stop . Oh goodness, i thought I might have to stop coffee altogether as I struggled so to let go of my longing for the coffee AND cremora taste. I could go on and on , my habits ( addictions ) are legion although none featured the added interest of containers as dave's yoghourt habit clearly did!! And my word, you certainly went above and beyond the call of duty in finding and supplying the substance!

Christine said...

I've read this before, but enjoyed it hugely all over again!

Sue Hepworth said...

The searching for it and supplying it was not done solely out of kindhearteness, Marmee.
It was also because I couldn't stand the complaints if we were out of it.

Anonymous said...

Ah, I have wondered about Dave & his yoghurt, now I know! I too love natural yoghurt. But, obviously, I'm a complete amateur! Does Dave have room left for any other foods? Love that your granddaughters have fun with the cartons �� Sally

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reposting, Sue - Dave’s a man in a million!

Sue Hepworth said...

You know sometimes it is too tantalising not knowing who these anonymous quotes are from. Occasionally I can guess, but not this time.

Hi Sally, yes, he eats a few other healthy things but yoghurt is roughly 70% of his intake and he is very fit and energetic, and cycles a LOT, so it appears to be doing him no harm, which is why I have given up worrying about it.