For today’s Real Food Quote Monday (RFQM), I’m going to share from Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. Here’s an intriguing quote that tells some history of dairy kefir in the early twentieth century in Russia. I never knew that kefir as we know it had such an exciting past!
“The [kefir] grains were treasured by the people who possessed them, passed down from generation to generation, and definitely not shared with strangers.
Early in the twentieth century, the “All Russian Physicians’ Society” became interested in obtaining the mysterious source of this healthful drink. Since the keepers of the grains did not wish to share them, this required deception and culture thievery. The scheme involved a young Russian woman named Irina Sakharova, whom the physicians hoped would be able to charm a Caucasus prince, Bek-Mirza Barchorov, into giving her some kefir grains. He refused, she tried to leave, he had her kidnapped, she was rescued, and he was charged in the Czar’s courts. For reparations, the young woman was awarded the treasure she sought; the court ordered the prince to give her some of his cherished kefir grains. In 1908, she brought the first kefir grains to Moscow. Kefir became, and remains to this day, a popular drink in Russia. In 1973, at age 85, Irina Sakharova was formally recognized by the Soviet Ministry of Health for her role in bringing kefir to the Russian people.”
What a fun story of intrigue, and with a happy ending! I enjoyed reading it. How about you? Have you tried kefir? Have you read anything interesting lately? Please share in the comments!
Read more about dairy kefir: what it is and how to make it.
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