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There was something home-fermented in every part of the meal

Yesterday’s preparations for a simple Canasta-accompanying dinner hardly required any brainpower and it got me reflecting on this ill-translatable Dutch saying: what a farmer doesn’t know, he doesn’t eat.

Through this proverb, children are taught to fear the unknown in a rather profound but self-explanatory manner: if the producers of our food turn their noses up at it, we would all do well to follow their example. Born in a world where there was still a strong correlation between cultivators and the crops they grew, the warning probably made some sense. But we more or less have cut farmers out of the equation and turned them into industrial workers, bound by homogenized rules and regulations.

Children, or so I hear, nowadays often believe their lunch and dinner magically appears in the supermarket, ready to be picked up by benevolent parents. Why ask a farmer what to eat and what not? What would he or she know about that

It’s not so much the loss of cultural aspects surrounding food traditions that saddens me, albeit inconceivably sad, I’m the first to admit. It is the underlying fear however that frightens me most because it seems so irrational to be scared of something that used to be so common. It takes out the fun of things like food preservation, or plain food preparation for that matter, if you continuously look outside yourself for knowledge about what to trust and what not to, without taking back some of the control through experiment and evaluation.

These are the thoughts that got me into fermenting as a way of redesigning my personal relationship with food. Most of the projects I’m trying to master at Les Pierres were born out of my desire to rebuild a confidence when it comes to what I put in my mouth, why and where I want it to come from. I expected a long process of knowledge gathering, only to discover that much of it is still based in natural instinct. It seems like a lot of time consuming work, until you start to familiarize yourself with it.

Assembling yesterday’s snacks, I realized there was something home-fermented in every part of the meal. It made me smile out of utter self-knowledge: as usual, I might have taken things a bit too far.

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