Ladies and gentlemen it’s Voices From The Fog! Welcome to the history of fermentation brought to you by Volpi Foods. It’s more interesting than it sounds, I promise. Much like the curing process, using fire to cook food or accidentally eating the wrong mushrooms, fermentation was this fascinating natural process going on whether we simple little humans happen to take part or not. Our subject today is what humans have done with this process in which bacteria take sugars and turn them into any number of things like gas, acid, or what you may know it for best — alcohol. I got news for you sunny, you see that pickle you’re so delicately applying to that Italian hoagie with Genoa and Mortadella? Or how about that provolone so elegantly draped over a said sandwich?
Also, fermented. *mind-blown*
Picture two distinguished gentlemen. They’re about to invent the hangover:
So one guy says “Dang look at all these rotten grapes that ended up all over the ground. Guy! You were on grape watch!”
His bud is like “They’re just a little squishy and moldy no biggie!” So they eat the grapes and get a funny head rush.
A smarter person comes along and says “Just drink that mess guys. Run the grape gunk through my hat and mash it up good. Flash-forward 6000 years and we’ve evolved all the way to foot and bucket technology. Moving forward the Egyptians and their huge structure building slave population, those happy laborers that built the pyramids would each ration four to five liters of beer a day. This counted as a form of payment so the Egyptian government could classify them as employees and not interns thus avoiding the slave tax.
Sobering-up, CHEESE — the milk that keeps. No one knows exactly how fermentation first introduced cheese to the world but the legend ain’t bad. An Arabian merchant is set to cross the desert. He’s agreed to pay another merchant for some milk but failed to secure a plastic jug from anywhere in the world, yet he’s got a pouch made from a sheep’s stomach. He crosses the desert and does his nomadic sort of thing. When he gets to camp, he opens the pouch and takes a drink. Instead of throwing up, he finds the way to be quenching and the curds to be delectable. Cheese is still made this way accidentally, even today all over the world in lazy people’s refrigerators.
Final anecdote and shout out to Asia. Genghis Khan — a man who, like a yeast cell, converted people into acids, gases, and alcohol in the form of murdering them. He is noted for officially bringing sauerkraut to the West… so thanks I guess? But seriously Genghis, just because sauerkraut is awesome we’re not going to look the other way on you being an epic pillaging scumbag.