I am often asked if I like my job as Professor of Brewing in sunny California, an hour from San Francisco, an hour to the hills, gloriously warm, beautiful people. Does a duck like water? Do round pegs insert into round holes?
But surely, my inquisitors continue, there must be things you miss from your native England? Of course, there are. Beyond family I would have high on the list The Times, Wolverhampton Wanderers, truly excellent Indian restaurants and the pub.
If only I could transport one of my old West Sussex locals to downtown Davis! It wouldn't be the same, of course. So I am perforce to reminisce nostalgically.
The beautifully balanced, low carbonation, best bitter ale in a jugged glass. Ploughman's lunches of ham, salami, cheese, pickled onions and freshly baked crusty bread. The delights of the curry, with nan and papadom, yoghurty dips. Glasses of cider or the finest wine (not necessarily imported, but usually). And the rich chocolate pud. Perhaps a post-prandial port, or Armagnac, or Southern Comfort (yes, I confess!).
Just look at that list. Ralph Waldo Emerson hit the nail on the head: what a gift we have in fermentation, the common denominator between all these foodstuffs and many more besides. In this book I endeavour to capture the essence of these very aged and honourable biotechnologies for the serious student of the topic. It would be impossible in a book of this size to do full justice to any of the individual food products - those seeking a fuller treatment for each are referred to the bibliography at the end of each treatment. Rather I seek to demonstrate the clear overlaps and similarities that sweep across all fermented foods, stressing the essential basics in each instance.
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