Reputable Sources in Time Out Beijing

Reputable Sources makes the July issue of Time Out Beijing, see the article here. The team there did a great job with the interview, the photoshoot, and helping me put together a side bar.

But as my name is on the article, I just need to clarify one error made in printing (and forgive me for putting on the pedagog hat):
“The English word ‘pickle’ refers to foods preserved in vinegar or brine, as this type of pickling — lacto-fermentation — has always been most common in Britain and the US.”

Lacto-fermentation is not the most common method for pickling in America (I can’t speak for Britain). With the advent of modern canning techniques, using vinegar to make pickles almost entirely replace lacto-fermentation.

Modern pickling methods, including use of vinegar (usually in place of fermentation) and pasteurization, produce a uniform, shelf stable product suitable to the needs of the large food corporations. Unfortunately, modern pickles do not offer the authentic flavor or health-promoting qualities of traditional pickles.

Using vinegar to make pickles is so common that the verb “pickle” (which once meant “to ferment or cure a vegetable for storage”) now almost universally refers to “preserving in vinegar or brine.” Historically, the verb “pickle” may have once included “to ferment” in this meaning, but my understanding is most people juxtapose “pickle” and “ferment” and are mapped onto the “modern-method” and “traditional-method” distinction.

And that’s what makes the Chinese term for this so great. It includes everything. The verb is simple. Salt, vinegar, ferment, or marinade… they’re products are all “腌-ed”. I’m “腌-ing” a salt-cured cabbage, a crock of Sichuanese paocai, and a jar of quick fermented radishes right now.  As for the Chinese nouns… that’s another story.