Lately I’ve been fermenting. The outer form of it has been taking place largely in my kitchen with any number of fermentations going on at the same time on any given day. In fact, I feel a little like I’ve gone fermentation kookoo. It’s not just fermentations though, but it’s making almond milk from my own almonds, making dips/spreads with the nut meat, making nut cheese, pickling, baking bread, etc. I’ve been trying to figure out why I’ve been doing this, because in some ways it feels a little obsessive.
I don’t think there is any one reason that dominates but I think there is more going on here than meets the eye. On the surface, there are a couple of reasons. The first is simply my curiosity in learning an entirely new frontier of kitchen/food skills and science. I find the fermentation process fascinating and love the idea of using naturally occurring bacteria and yeast to alter and augment food. A second reason is that I love good healthy food and since moving more towards being vegan I am more and more curious and interested in maximizing the beneficial health qualities (and flavor) of food.
Kimchee and other ferments can be so satisfying to make. For those who don’t know about kimchee, it is the national dish of Korea and consists primarily of cabbage mixed with carrots, daikon and lots of spicy goodies such as onion, garlic, ginger and hot peppers. It’s untenably spicy when you first mix it, but after a week or so, it becomes more more subdued and very fulfillingly complex. There is such an aliveness to it when eaten while it is actively fermenting. And it’s oh so good.
Outside of these more surface-oriented reasons, there are deeper factors at play. For millenia, our ancestors have used fermentation proce
|my masterwork – watermelon daikon|
sses to preserve foods and their nutritional value through the winter months. The more I allow myself to flow at a darker and slower inward pace with the winter, the more the natural winter urge to preserve foods arises. I can and do shop regularly at my small local health food store so the absolute need to preserve may not be real, but I do think that by allowing myself to connect with the winter here more, that I am allowing this natural fermentation urge to express itself.
As you may recall from recent writings, I am reveling in the dark and rainy winter here on the Mendocino coast. I’ve missed it each of the last 2 winters here as I’ve been traveling,
and my system seems to have a strong yearning to be here and allow whatever inner process which arises within me to unfold. As I look at this fermentation fixation, it feels like an activity which is sympathetic to an inner transformation process. Fermentation works when we take certain ingredients and invest them in the proper environment within which they can transform. It is a slow and somewhat deliberate process, and I feel that about my time here now. I do feel like I am fermenting this winter, like my essential ingredients are stewing in the brine of this cold and rainy winter sea.
My first inner winter fermented bubbling batch seems to be related to self worth and seeing and appreciating my own value, a surprisingly difficult thing to do. Through my hosting of a sacred space for a silent new years gathering for about 20 people, to letting in the love of friends for my birthday, to being more in touch with my compassion for others, and feeling my own capacity to love, I am cracking through to an appreciation of my capacity, worthiness and goodness. We’ll see if and where this moves and how this fermentation deepens, but this feels like an important process. Without something shifting and transforming in this area, I’ll continue to hold myself back from a full, confident and vibrant manifestation in this lifetime.