Miin Chan, “Lost in the Brine”, Eater, March 1, 2021. https://www.eater.com/2021/3/1/22214044/fermented-foods-industry-whiteness-kimchi-miso-kombucha
In this article, Miin Chan addresses the Western commercialisation of fermentation; an industry that’s roots are firmly planted in East Asian traditions. Chan critiques the whiteness of the industry’s leading figures, including Sandor Katz. As a member of the fermentation community herself, Chan offers a poignant insight into the transformation of the fermentation industry from her childhood in Malaysia during the 1980s, through to her present-day occupation as a Wild Fermentactivist Gastronomer based in Melbourne. Chan highlights the importance of promoting a diverse study of ferments, providing recognition for their complex histories and sociocultural significance. This is a really insightful article into understanding the whitewashing of fermentation, in Chan’s own words: ‘The fermentation industry, like any other, has a whiteness problem.’
Sarah Pruitt, “The Juicy, 4,000-Year History of Pickles’, History, last updated August 7, 2019. https://www.history.com/news/pickles-history-timeline
Sarah Pruitt manages to succinctly capture the 4,000 year-long history of pickles, from the ancient world, through to the modern-day. Whilst the exact origins of the process are largely unknown to many archaeologists, Pruitt begins her account from c. 24000 B.C. in ancient Mesopotamia.
“Etymological origins of the ‘achar pickle’”, Appetite, Accessed on September 10, 2021. https://research.appetitesg.com/idea/etymological-origins-of-the-achar-pickle/
As part of our broader work here at Appetite on pickling, this article traverses the etymological origins of the infamous ‘Achar pickle’, also originating in the Tigris Valley in India. The pickling agents of the Achar pickle vary widely, from brine, oil, vinegar and even fermented palm toddy.
Katz, Sandor. Fermentation as Metaphor (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2020)
Sandor Katz is a prominent fermentation revivalist who seeks to demystify the process of fermentation in order to make it more accessible, with the hope to decentralise the system of food production: an act of reclamation. This is Katz’s fourth publication on fermentation, in which he has taken a much more philosophical approach to the process, drawing comparisons between the biological and metaphorical uses of the word.
Zilber, David. “Fermenting Culture. An Interview with David Zilber” Interview with Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, Emergence Magazine. Podcast audio, October 7, 2019. https://emergencemagazine.org/interview/fermenting-culture/
David Zilber is the former director of the fermentation lab at Noma, in Copenhagen, Denmark. In this incredible interview with Emmy nominated filmmaker and composer, Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, the pair discuss the parallels between food and culture. Zilber remarks that ‘“Culture” and ‘culture’ mean two different things to a biologist and an anthropologist, but in fermentation, they overlap completely.’ The fermentation lab planted its roots in the Nordic tradition of preservation, such as capers and saltfisk, which is dried and salted cod. Throughout the interview, Zilber comments on the parallel developments between fermentation and agriculture as a deeply embedded cultural and historical relationship: one that informs how people relate to both place and culture more broadly.
iron.saint, “Food & Culture and Claude Levi-Strauss”, Sturm und Drang, July 26, 2012. https://fermentationculture.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/food-culture-and-claude-levi-strauss/
If interested in the historical associations between fermentation and culture, refer to the work of Claude Lévi-Strauss. He was a prolific French anthropologist and ethnologist working predominantly throughout the 20th century. In one of his seminal works, The Raw and the Cooked (1964), Lévi-Strauss characterises food as a lens through which to understand social history. He separates food into three primary forms: raw, cooked and rotted. As such, fermentation is situated within the rotted category. In this article, iron.saint manages to capture the essence of Lévi-Strauss’s model: ‘That it was the fermentation of natural substances into something transformative and slightly mind altering, that ushered in our human development of culture.’