You Say Foment, I Say Ferment


Foment Definition: Instigate or stir up. Synonyms—incite, provoke, instigate.

Ferment Definition: 1. undergo fermentation 2. Incite or stir up (as in trouble).

Sound pretty similar don’t they? Ever since returning home from Ballymaloe, I have been drawn to all things fermented. I’ve been reading The Fermented Man, by Derek Dellinger while I make a steady stream of sourdough bread. I’ve made the fermented tomatoes and hot pepper sauce from his book.


Fermented Hot Pepper Sauce


Fermented Cherry Tomatoes

My husband and I have loved the fermented Lemon/Ginger Fizz that I learned at Ballymaloe. I’ve mastered the kombucha after growing my own scoby thanks to detailed directions from

I have felt that making any fermented food is a symbol for patience. I am a patient person when it comes to dealing with people and situations. I am not a patient person when it comes to my agenda. I want my direction clear and I want it clear now! Just as I have purported as a goal for Cooking Therapy, making fermented foods, requires focused attention and patience. I have to put the work into the process in order to get the results I seek. Time and effort leads to mastery. Nothing teaches you that lesson like sourdough. If you want the sourdough to live and grow, it must be fed everyday.

Sourdough also teaches about abundance. I have more sourdough starter than I know what to do with. Having so much has pushed me to get creative. I just made sourdough banana bread. Besides a loaf of sourdough per day, I’ve already made sourdough pancakes, muffins, and dumplings.   And what surprises me is that I don’t tire of making it. Every loaf is a surprise. Will it turn out? How much will it rise? Will the loaf be filled with the requisite holes that indicate a job well done? I have feeling I need the lessons of patience, effort, and time more than I am aware of already.

In other words, I like being a fermenter. I have in my time also been perceived as a fomenter. I have a childhood memory, second grade, when the pastor at our church came out of the confessional to yell at me in front of my fellow students. I cannot imagine what a second grader could possibly have said to make him so mad, but I’m guessing it had something to do with the exclusion of women from the priesthood. I was an observant little shit at the time. I was looking for the holes in logic even in the second grade. My other clue about what he might have said came when Gerry and I sat down with the same priest to discuss our wedding plans.  He clearly liked my then fiancé, but to me he pointed a finger in my face and said, “You’re not a priest yet, you know!” I don’t recall EVER saying I wanted to be a priest, but maybe I had in the confessional that day?  It will take a lot more sourdough to dredge up specific details of that memory.

Then in the seventh grade, my French teacher said I was an iconoclast. Of course, I had to go home and look it up. I do not go looking for fights. In fact, I hate conflict. I am much more interested in preserving relationships (Fermentation is a great preserver). However, I also do not like injustice. I almost always take the side of the underdog. I have a way of “stepping in it,” when I feel I am just stating the obvious. Understandably, I might ruffle some feathers. Maybe one foments on the way to ferment or are two sides of the same coin. I know both lead to change and growth, that is, if the base doesn’t blow up in the process.

My conclusion, foment is who I am. Ferment is what I do.






6 thoughts on “You Say Foment, I Say Ferment

  1. I agree with you 100% on your self-assessment, Mick. As your younger sister I’ve always admired your intellectual fomentation (is that a word?) and now, the beneficiary of your fermentation! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great work Michelle! Very interested to hear about your progress. We (finally) make our move stateside at the end of this month. You never know, we may see you sometime. All the very best, Steve.


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