Sandor Katz, author of the seminal book, The Art of Fermentation, kicked off the 4th Annual Portland (OR) Fermentation Festival (in the Fall of 2013) with a short talk and a question and answer session that was quickly embraced by a packed roomful of fellow fermentation enthusiasts.
In the first video, Katz, a self-described “fermentation revivalist”, waxed poetically about the important role fermentation has played in human civilization, categorically questioning it’s resurgence is somehow just a fad. “I certainly see the growing awareness of it, and growing interest in it, and yet I don’t think there is anything faddish about fermented foods and beverages,” Katz says in the video. “People have been very devoted to them for about 10,000 years. Most people who live on planet Earth eat and drink products of fermentation everyday.” Before going on to taking questions, he wraps it by discussing our fear of bacteria. “Is there anything sexier than a soap manufacturer can write on a container of soap than it ‘kills 99.9%’ of bacteria.” Understanding that for the most part, at least to a large extent bacteria is not only our friend, humans depend on bacteria in order to live.
Q & A with Sandor Katz on Fermentation
The people in the audience were there to hear Mr. Katz, and also to attend the opening of the Fermentation Festival. Suffice it to say, those in the audience ran the gamut from fermentation newbies, to avid fermentors themselves. Their questions reflected their diversity:
- Is it possible to overdo it?
- How to maintain crunchiness?
- Regarding fermentation, what does the future hold?
- If it smells bad, can it be good?
The second round of questions with Sandor Katz on Beer:
Portland, Oregon, ranks #1 in the U.S. in the number of microbreweries per capita, so it probably shouldn’t be too surprising that a couple of questions asked were beer-focused:
- How to add your own yeasts into the beer making process?
- What are the differences between wild and packaged yeasts in the brewing purposes?
See also this related video, an interview we had with Sandor Katz during his visit to Portland: