At the end of September we ran an internal master class about fermentation with Dr. Johnny Drain as our guide. The goal of this workshop was for us to further explore fermentation, using a genomic gastronomy lens and learn more about the possibilities of (genomic gastronomy x fermentation) by running our own fermentation experiment at home with guidance and advice from Johnny.
FOOD + BIO + ART
CGG is all about the art of food (gastronomy) + life sciences: but we have not had much time or domain expertise in fermentation / the MICROBIOME OF THE KITCHEN and this seemed like a good time to correct that.
Some implications of using a genomic gastronomy lens are:
1. Honing in on the biodiversity and biotechnologies that are entangled in contemporary and historical fermentation practices.
2. Paying close attention to the abundance and distribution of particular species, cultivars and agro-ecosystems in the geographies we inhabit.
3. Making connections across scales. From microbes to plants to land-use to planet.
This was also an opportunity for each of the current members of the Center for Genomic Gastronomy to explore different interests and (since we are spread out across the world) to experiment with very different regional cuisines and produce. The goal is to explore our own local food offerings and come back together (virtually) to share what we’ve found…in particular, looking at what is grown / harvested in September that might be in excess. We imagine this as a “This is Not a Test (Kitchen)” follow-up workshop—an opportunity for us to meet together and share food and cooking (or fermenting) long-distance.
FERMENTED FOODS ARE THE NEON INKS OF PLANT-FORWARD FOOD
We also initiated this workshop to learn more about how fermentation can boost non-meat products and how fermentation processes (the science, labor, care, aesthetic and flavor) can add to the conversation around plant-based or plant-forward diets. Example: using KOJI to make vegan charcuterie.
Fermented foods and processes seem to be one way one can bring in unique, distinct and delicious flavors and textures to plant-based food, and move beyond the grey and brown veggie food of the 1960s + 1970s. I want fermentation to be the neon inks of our kitchen, lifting and brightening food design that might otherwise become dull and monotonous.
In the next blog post we will write some notes and takeaways from the masterclass and the last post will include photographs our ferments and some recipes.