Peter’s Blog: The Fermentation Fest, and other Thoughts on Transformation
I’ve been on the road a lot lately, teaching classes and doing book signings for my new book, “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice 15th Anniversary Edition,” and I wanted to share a few observations and also give you the details for my upcoming appearance at the 9th Annual Fermentation Fest, in Reedsburg, Wisconsin on October 8th and 9th.
First, these have been very challenging weeks, across the country and the world. At times, it seemed as though the whole world has been spinning out of control. My own city, Charlotte, NC, has just gone through one of the most difficult weeks in its history, and we’re still not out of the weeds what happened here last week. Nationwide, innocent people are getting shot, bombs are going off or are being found just in the nick of time, and fear is running rampant. We are experiencing the oddest, scariest, most vicious (and divisive) Presidential election in our lifetime and, perhaps, of all time. Our site, Pizza Quest, cannot begin to address these matters, nor is it our purpose, but none of us can simply ignore them either.
One thing that I have witnessed (and have observed for many years), which has been reinforced while attending recent book festivals (Decatur, GA) and harvest festivals (Norwich, VT), and bread classes (Chapel Hill, NC), is the hunger that people everywhere share for knowledge, learning, and for the opportunity to celebrate life and goodness. Give people a reason to celebrate and they will. Festivals and celebrations have a long tradition and societal purpose that also reaches deep into us, into our souls. Until modern times, traditional celebrations were always connected to natural cycles (like solstices and harvests) or religious and spiritual beliefs. Their primary purpose was to serve as a means for previous generation to pass on their worldview to the next generation through music, dance, and other arts and rituals (of which bread usually had a prominent symbolic role). I call this activity the transmission of knowledge. And, even in today’s more secular world, unintentionally or subconsciously (or even unconsciously), I think it’s just as true — worldview and values are still being transmitted to the next generation through celebrations and festivals.
Well, this is a big subject, too big to try to flesh out here, but I at least wanted to get it out on the page because, from what I can tell, especially now in these frightening times, we need to celebrate life, and celebrate our deepest beliefs and spiritual intuitions, more than ever. To do so is a form of renewal and revitalization, and it can touch us more profoundly than the external circumstances of any moment, in a way that affirms the deeper reality of our existence.
So, with that off my chest, I want to invite anyone who can to join me and many others at this year’s Fermentation Fest in Reedsburg, WI, where we will, for sure, celebrate life as we explore the transformation of many ingredients — whether milk, grain, vegetation — and even the transmutation of imagination into art and crafts of all types — from one thing into something totally new and other. Pickling, cheese making, spirit beverages, bread baking, and works of art of all types — they all represent the principle of transformation, which I define as the radical change of one thing into something else, and this is what I will be discussing during my Keynote presentation on Saturday, October 8th. I will also be presenting on the 8th, along with local bread baker, Shawn Rediske, a class on baking with sprouted grains, and then, on Sunday, October 9th, I’ll be leading a workshop on food writing. This festival, which begins on September 30th, encompasses nine days of celebration, with an opening presentation by Sandor Katz, the leading spokesperson and inspiration of the fermentation movement, along with dozens of classes and workshops by many other experts.
Here’s the link to the festival website, and I look forward to seeing many of you on the 8th and 9th. It’s time to, once again, come together to celebrate what defines us, all of us, as transformational, creative beings. http://fermentationfest.com/about-the-fest
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Pizza Quest is a site dedicated to the exploration of artisanship in all forms, wherever we find it, but especially through the literal and metaphorical image of pizza. As we share our own quest for the perfect pizza we invite all of you to join us and share your journeys too. We have discovered that you never know what engaging roads and side paths will reveal themselves on this quest, but we do know that there are many kindred spirits out there, passionate artisans, doing all sorts of amazing things. These are the stories we want to discover, and we invite you to jump on the proverbial bus and join us on this, our never ending pizza quest.
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