I think a lot about why I ferment, and why I really want other people to at least try it. The science is pretty compelling. Don’t take my word for it, though, buy The Art of Fermentation. Although there is much more to be studied in the realm of the benefits of fermentation, Sandor Katz does an excellent job of combing through the data that is there and breaking it down for non-scienctist readers. There’s no question that health was the thing that first got me interested in fermentation. But there are other things that have kept me going and those are the things that incited me to write this blog, hoping to get other people interested or at least to give them guidance and support during their fermentation exploration.
Tonight, though, it is the sounds of fermentation that have me enamored. I’m prepping inordinate amounts of kimchi for a few different Science Festival events, which means I have gallon-sized, swingtop jars, half-gallon Ball jars and my crock all full to capacity and sitting on my table. The smells (wonderful, in my view) are for another post. The sounds tonight are honestly reminding me of a night spent under a mosquito net in primary Amazon rainforest. In the pitch black, it was clear that there was life all around me. Now, laying on my couch in the heart of the city, I can hear my ginger bug bubbling in its bowl, like the slow sizzle of a frying pan. Something, I can’t figure out what, sounds exactly like a game of space invaders being played by a neighbor a few doors down. My crock evokes a lone fish, breathing just underneath the surface of the water, its breath breaking the surface in a small “bloop” every few minutes as the gases created during fermentation are gently expelled through the water seal. Even my mistakes and shortcomings as a fermenter result in gorgeous sounds. I filled my Fido and LeParfait jars too full, so in these early days of vigorous fermentation they hiss and glub like a snake near a stream as the excess liquid is pushed from beneath the gaskets onto the plates below the jars and sadly, one night, also onto my floors and walls. I never intended to make a kimchi slip ‘n’ slide, but I can now claim to have invented it, maybe.
Fermentation is a sensory experience. The smells, the sounds, the feel, the look and certainly the taste are all comforting and habit-forming. These are the things that connect us to our food; the things that, to me, make those foods that are processed and manufactured and perfectly assembled by machines in legally sterilized environments so much less enticing. Big stainless steel vats can never make a product that will compare to the drip, drop, hiss and bloop that makes my home sound like home.
Don’t throw up on me for waxing poetic. I’m tired and covered in gochugaru and my fermentation love is real.
Note: I wrote this last week, during the wonderful Science Festival. The festival ended on Sunday. It was a great time!