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Aoife Cox has been whistling up the kefir, the kombucha and the kim chi, all thanks to the inspirational Sandor Katz.

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Man, but that Katz was cool.

And tickets to see him at the Ballyma'LitFest? They, my friend, were smokin' hot.

In a weekend peopled by the great and the good of food and wine - a Madhur Jaffrey here, a Claudia Roden there, and those Allen ladies everywhere - the fermentation faithful flocked to hear what Sandor Katz had to say. Author of the Art of Fermentation - a new testament to an ancient craft - the gospel according to brother Katz was loud and clear: fear ye not, embrace your bacterial brethren and get fermenting.

These were not the words of some fly-by-night food faddist - this mustachioed minister of microbes was preaching from the good book of old tricks: what our forbears knew about harnessing natural bacterial action to preserve nature's bounty is well worth remembering. But this lesson was about more than just preservation: fermented foods - from soy sauce to sauerkraut - are about strong and compelling flavours; they're about blessing our guts with beneficial bacteria; they're about culture, tradition and a rediscovery of sometimes forgotten skills.

And so, it is thanks to Mr. Katz that my kitchen has become home to kefir and kombucha, and that cabbage becomes, not compost, but kim chi. Good things. I've learned, can come in microscopic parcels and for every little speck, praise be. http://www.wildfermentation.com http://litfest.ie

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