Culturing Food: History, Health & Fermentation

Culturing Food: History, Health & Fermentation - Science on Tap

Before we start, here is what you need to know about me. Though this is indeed Science on Tap, and though I was indeed invited here by the College of Physicians, I am neither a scientist nor an M.D. I am a food blogger, a folklorist, a historian, and — if anything — a fermentation enthusiast. This means that what I am interested in is people — how people use fermentation, how they have used it in the past, and how it works as a technology that improves quality of life, and the flavor and longevity of whatever it is folks are eating.

Fermentation is a bit of a popular topic right now. Alternet, the online indy reporting outfit and sometime light-news rag, called it their number one top food trend of 2013. In December of last year, they wrote:

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Bread is really important.

The English word companionship derives from a Latin compound — cum and panis — meaning with bread. The word that we use to describe pay for work, salary, also comes from Latin — from salis, meaning salt. But when we’re trying to be cool, or casual, or colloquial (the three c’s!), we might tell people that we’ve made some dough this week — or that we’ve made some bread.

For a large swath of the population, Sunday mornings are all about getting up, jumping into one’s best clothes, heading to church to ask for bread. Forgive us our tresspasses, Christians intone (though some intone debts, instead), and give us this day our daily bread.