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.
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