As just about any fan of fermentation will know, Sandor Katz is the man that brought fermentation back to the masses. It is not overstatement to say that his book, Wild Fermentation, is the seminal work for the current generation of fermenters. It is a fantastic book and I highly recommend buying it if you don’t already own it. I have often thought of pulling a Julie/Julia on Sandor, but in the end, that kind of goes against the spirit of the book and the spirit of fermentation that Mr. Katz admires so much. His approach is all about giving it a try, seeing what works and experimenting as much as possible. His philosophy has definitely influenced my approach to fermentation.
Yesterday, Katz came to Philly to speak at a free event at the Free Library to promote his new book The Art of Fermentation. Since then, I’ve been diving into this tome with every spare moment I have and I can honestly say it is AMAZING! It has a completely different vibe than Wild Fermention. It’s anything but wild, actually. It’s a comprehensive, beautiful, extraordinary guide to fermentation in all of its ugly beauty. It is full of information that really brings home what an essential part fermentation plays in global cuisine. Exciting stuff, to say the least.
Katz’ talk was everything a fan girl desired. Smart but not snobby, informative but not preachy and so very inspiring. Those who have read Wild Fermentation will know his story, but that didn’t make his thoughts on food and community, the history of fermentation or the health benefits of eating ferments any less fascinating. I wanted to cry 1,000 tears when I realized I didn’t have time to grab my copy of Wild Fermentation from home for signing. I’m alright with it now. The event wasn’t about his celebrity. He made it about community, global food culture and the joy of getting back to our culinary roots.
The Free Library is the shit, and they’ve linked to a podcast of the event here. If you are on the fence about starting your own ferments, check it out. If you are an old (or new) hand at fermenting, check it out. There’s a lovely long Q&A and a great view into Katz’ fermentation mentality.