The yogurt in my crock pot has been fermenting for about three hours. The droplets on its glass lid, illuminated by slanting winter sunlight, catches my attention.
Now, the oldest writings referencing yogurt are attributed to Pliny the Elder, who remarked that certain nomadic tribes knew how "to thicken the milk into a substance with an agreeable acidity". The earliest yogurt—in civilizations as far back as 2000 BC—was probably fermented spontaneously, likely by wild bacteria residing inside goatskin bags used for transportation.
As for Pliny, instead of heeding his helmsman’s suggestion on August 24, 79 AD to leave Herculaneum, as cinders and pumice from Vesuvius’s eruption rained down on them, he shrugged and said, “Fortuna favet fortibus.” Soon he was dead.