Saturday May 2, 2011 was an quintessential spring day and because this Oregon girl who has been enjoying a very wet and grey spring, I was touched by the sunshine. I was in Freestone, California for the Third Annual Fermentation Festival. The day was especially sweet as I reconnected with one of my dearest friends. She and I navigated our first two years of college and dorm life together.
I introduced her to fermented foods on this visit. So it was with this friend, who before my arrival the night before had never heard of fermented foods, and our daughters that we embarked on the festival. We arrived at the school grounds and the primordial beat of music was wafting through the campus, it suggested a festive mood. I, for one, felt the groove, but instead of dancing got into the line that thickly moved from presenter to presenter.
Oyster Kimchi right off the bat, followed by a delicate cheese. Kefir water next, and then it is a blur of krauts, pickles and more kombucha variations than I can count. Our senses where sent batted back forth by textures, bubbles and flavors. I was into it, however I am seasoned by regular sauerkraut consumption.
At one point my friend looked up at me and said, “I am burping,” as she patted her tummy. “But this is good for me right?”
It is, yes, but that was the first time it occurred to me that the entire array of fermented should perhaps not be taken in one day, especially one’s very first day of culture. A week later, I was giving a group of farm interns from Santa Cruz a tour of the kitchen and farm. I mentioned the festival and some of them had been there. They also said that there were some stomach aches the next day. Part of the reintroduction of these age old important foods into our modern depleted digestive systems may be something we all can’t just jump into willy-nilly. I realize that beyond the great flavors and the experience of the Japanese enzyme food soak, my take away, is understanding more about how much is maybe too much at one time? What is the best way to introduce our systems to these incredible foods.