Imagine an unseen universe, one that exists literally beneath our notice. One that is only visible to human eyes when magnified by powerful instruments. Then, we see a veritable garden of diversity-communities of microbes living in cooperation and competition, much as we humans do in our macro-sized world. Yet without these unseen actors-these adaptive and resilient single-celled organisms-we would literally not be ourselves, for bacteria comprise a large proportion of our bodies. They are a large part of us, and we of them. They live on and inside of us, and on every surface, quietly doing their jobs, which for the most part are highly beneficial and essential for our health and well-being.
This is the secret world that fermentation expert Sandor Katz invites us to explore with him. In his latest book, Fermentation as Metaphor, he goes far beyond merely explaining the processes by which microbes transform our foods, making them tasty and safe for consumption. In a series of short reflections on fermentation, he draws intriguing parallels between the communities of microbial life and aspects of our human culture: politics, religion, social and cultural movements, art, music, sexual mores, and even our individual thoughts and feelings.
Katz offers a contemplation, based on science, about the nature of ourselves, our fellow beings, and the inseparable interaction of the two. He explores the human concepts of purity and contamination, revealing that the first is an unattainable, even undesirable goal, and that the latter is typically not something to be shunned, even if we could. Along the way, he informs his arguments with his vast knowledge of fermentation, which he describes as a slow, gentle, steady, yet unstoppable force for change.
Perfect for foodies and fans of fermentations and Katz’s previous bestsellers (Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation), this book also features dozens of incredible photos that exalt microbial life from the level of “germs” to that of high art.