When bacteria is a good thing

My introduction to fermented food happened one afternoon in the dining room of my first office job. I walked in to grab my lunch bag out of the refrigerator and was over come with a pungent smell. My other fellow coworker noticed to and was braver than I do audibly address the questionable smell. “What IS that smell!?”

“It’s Kimchi,” a voice answered back. I had never heard of it before but I was about to learn the complete in’s and outs of this famous fermented Korean dish from my very excited new vegan friend.

Photo by Portuguese Gravity on Unsplash

Kimchi is a traditional dish made with salted and fermented vegetables like cabbage and Korean radish and a wide variety of seasonings. I was told all about how many probiotics it included which got me into a whole other topic of gut health.

This was new for me too. In my research I discovered that healthy bacteria creates a healthy gut. These microorganisms can ward off other harmful bacteria and viruses within the stomach and digestive system. A healthy gut also links directly to the brain to help keep hormones in check and can help to improve general well-being.

Interested in this new found fermented food, I started looking into other dishes and found this chart of 36 fermented foods from around the world on howtocook.recipies.com.

There are a lot of items on this chart that I didn’t even realize used fermentation. There are many I would love to try and there are a few I would definitely not even entertain. I had to read what Kiviak was a couple times and I’m still not completely sure I understand.

An indigenous Inuit dish and custom that involves taking (between 400 and 500!) dead seagull-like birds and putting them inside a seal carcass, then placing the seal underground until the fermentation process is completed. This process takes several months and once it’s finished the birds are taken out of the seal carcass, stripped of their skin and feathers and eaten, bones and all - completely raw.

Yikes. I can only imagine that smells a lot worse than Kimchi.