Science on Tap is a monthly science café that features a brief, informal presentation by a scientist or other expert followed by lively conversation.
Culturing Food: History, Health & Fermentation
Featuring folklorist, freelance writer, and food blogger
Adam D. Zolkover
What do The Epic of Gilgamesh, James Cook’s Voyage Toward the South Pole and Round the World, the dairies of Gruyères Switzerland, and our speaker’s home kitchen all have in common? Fermentation!
We can define fermentation as a biological process: as the metabolization of sugars by yeasts, bacteria, and sometimes our own cells, into gases, acids, and alcohol. For denizens of the microbial world, it’s a matter of eat, then excrete. But for humans, fermentation is a cultural process. Bread, beer, dairy, pickles, and preserved meats have all been key ingredients in the success of agricultural, sedentary, urban societies. And they have all been essential to long voyages of exploration.
This talk explores the intermingling of science and history in the kitchen. And it explores some of the practical aspects of fermentation for home cooks today.
Adam D. Zolkover is a folklorist, freelance writer, and food blogger living in Philadelphia, PA. He serves as editor of the Institute for Civility in Government’s online initiative — The Civility Blog — and teaches courses in folklore, literature, and popular culture at Philadelphia University, Temple University, and The University of Pennsylvania. He has run workshops on fermentation and lacto-pickling for the Mount Airy Learning Tree. And he is owner and proprietor of twice-cooked.com, where he writes about food culture, sustainable cooking, and the preparation and consumption of all manners of delicious fermented things.
This month's Science on Tap is presented by the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
More information on the Science on Tap series
Science on Tap is sponsored by a consortium of five Philadelphia institutions: the Academy of Natural Sciences, the American Philosophical Society Museum, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, and the Wagner Free Institute of Science.