Youth-inducing Yogurt? - Chinese get a taste for Bulgaria | DocFilm | DW | 02.11.2020
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Youth-inducing Yogurt? - Chinese get a taste for Bulgaria

In Bulgaria, yogurt from the Rhodope Mountains is much hyped as an elixir of youth. A tiny village there has even become a tourist magnet among Chinese, who come to visit the annual yogurt festival.

Watch video 42:36

A Chinese delegation first visited Momchilovtsi nine years ago to observe how milk and yogurt are produced there. They were particularly excited about yogurt containing the bacteria "Lactobacillus bulgaricus". The Chinese visitors took starter cultures home with them to China and began to copy the Bulgarian recipe, using milk from local cows. China’s state dairy Bright Dairy also named a yogurt after the mountain village and featured it in its TV ads. As a result, Momchilovtsi has become a magnet for Chinese visitors. The Chinese are fascinated by the number of residents who are over the age of ninety. Villagers, in turn, started learning Mandarin and now stage an annual three-day Chinese-Bulgarian yogurt festival that attracts up to 8000 visitors. Many hope that the yogurt boom will help boost the beleaguered local economy and stop people leaving to work in the city. But not everyone in the village is happy. Some people fear that the place is losing its identity and are calling for more sustainable tourism. Furthermore, an increasing number of Chinese tourists are visiting Momchilovtsi, the so-called "Village of Eternal Life" they know from television commercials. They’re fascinated by the fact that so many villagers live beyond the age of 90. Meanwhile, the locals are learning Mandarin to welcome up to 8,000 visitors from China who come for the yogurt festival every September. They are hoping the visitors will boost the economy and slow emigration from the village. But not everyone is pleased about the hordes of tourists, and some fear the village will lose its identity. This documentary goes to Momchilovtsi to see how it is coping with the Chinese influx and find out why people there really do live so long.