At a time when germaphobia is spreading faster than the Omicron variant, the East Asian Studies Center has set out to explore the roots and multitudes of traditional East Asian fermentation practices and techniques and to present this microscopic world of beneficial bacteria and molds to a broader audience. We hope that this will stimulate interest in East Asian food cultures and history, but also that local farmers, restaurants, and other food producers will find inspiration to explore new ways to conceptualize their own produce and products. (Check out our intro video to this project - note that the hyperlink will open up in YouTube.)
The fermentation project will furthermore be an interesting addition to the Indigenous East Asia project with its emphasis on food heritage preservation.
Seminars/workshops/lectures Tentative Themes:
- Traditional (and indigenous) East Asian techniques of fermentation
- Kimchee and why it is not just spicy sauerkraut
- History of Fermentation – from ancient Chinese jiang to (post-)modern amino acids
- Role of fermented foods in national cultures and identities
- Overcoming seasonality: Fermentation as a lifeline for local producers
- Biodiversity of fermented foods
- Mighty Molds of Japan – The art of using Koji-kin
- Heritage Preservation vs Cultural Appropriation
With the fermentation project, we will accomplish a long range of objectives within the mission of EASC:
Resilience/Food security: explore new ways for local farmers to overcome the problem of seasonality. To this end we have allied ourselves with a local farmer, non-profit, co-op (Rosehill Farmstop) with whom we intend to organize a series of talks and seminars/workshops as a first step.
Food culture studies: investigate and map fermented food products as sources of national/cultural identities
Linking culture studies with microbiology and other hard sciences: Increase understanding of how microbial cultures have impacted, and have been impacted by, social cultures across time and space
Cross-cultural comparisons: Demonstrate how food preservation is universal but also locally unique through a comparison of techniques, ingredients, and consumption
- FED – IU student culinary club
- IU Food Institute
- Center for Rural Engagement
- Rosehill Farmstop
If you have read this far, it is probably fair to assume that you find the project interesting, so please get in touch with me (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can have a chat about how you or your organization can get involved, or sign up for our newsletter.