This is a very difficult book to define. Did I like it? Yes. But how to categorize it? I am not sure.
It is kind of a cookbook... lots of recipes on fermenting food.
It is kind of a science book... lots of information on how fermenting works.
It is kind of an anthropology book... lots of information on the human cultures that historically fermented food.
It is kind of a health book... lots of information (not as supported as I would have liked, but good none the less) on the health benefits of fermented foods.
It is kind of an editorial... lots of comments on his ultra-liberal, HIV-positive, homosexual lifestyle and stories about living in a commune with other queer folk. If this kind of thing offends you, then this is not the book for you, but I would strongly suggest trying to look past that for the really good information contained in this book.
So, it is an odd amalgamation of a book. But it is quite readable if you are into food. It is a refreshing change from the very meticulous, super sterilized techniques so often seen in books on fermenting (cheese, beer, wine, etc.). The author, Sandor Katz, takes a much more relaxed and experimental approach to fermentation, one I think, that more closely resembles how our ancestors fermented foods.
Here is a quick, selected list of foods discussed in this book:
- And a bunch of other fermented foods I only first learned about in this book.
If I got anything out of this book, it is to have fun with fermentation. Treat it as an art, not quite so much as a science. Don't get overwhelmed with chemicals and boiling times. Have common sense with cleanliness, and you will have fun producing tasty and healthy foods.