Science on Tap

A Philadelphia Science Café
eat. drink. science.

What’s on tap:

Monday, April 14 2014
6 p.m.
National Mechanics
22 South Third St.
Philadelphia 19106
Doors open at 5pm. Ages 21+ or with a chaperone 25 years or older.

Culturing Food: History, Health & Fermentation

Featuring  folklorist, freelance writer, and food blogger
Adam D. Zolkover

What do The Epic of Gilgamesh, James Cook’s Voyage Toward the South Pole and Round the World, the dairies of Gruyères Switzerland, and our speaker’s home kitchen all have in common?  Fermentation!


Pickles! Photo by Adam D. Zolkover.

We can define fermentation as a biological process:  as the metabolization of sugars by yeasts, bacteria, and sometimes our own cells, into gases, acids, and alcohol.  For denizens of the microbial world, it’s a matter of eat, then excrete.  But for humans, fermentation is a cultural process.  Bread, beer, dairy, pickles, and preserved meats have all been key ingredients in the success of agricultural, sedentary, urban societies.  And they have all been essential to long voyages of exploration.

This talk explores the intermingling of science and history in the kitchen.  And it explores some of the practical aspects of fermentation for home cooks today.

Adam D. Zolkover is a folklorist, freelance writer, and food blogger living in Philadelphia, PA.  He serves as editor of the Institute for Civility in Government’s online initiative — The Civility Blog — and teaches courses in folklore, literature, and popular culture at Philadelphia University, Temple University, and The University of Pennsylvania.  He has run workshops on fermentation and lacto-pickling for the Mount Airy Learning Tree.  And he is owner and proprietor of, where he writes about food culture, sustainable cooking, and the preparation and consumption of all manners of delicious fermented things.

April’s Science on Tap is hosted by the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

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