As of yesterday, Reputable Sources has been crockless for two weeks. Looking back on it, the exact moment is hard to pinpoint, but one day last spring, my wife and I knew we would be leaving China before winter. We didn’t have specific dates or thorough plans in those days, but Beijing’s extreme winds, bitter cold, and lingering pollution were frequent villains in our stories, looming at the end of the year. Our calendar began to fill with all sorts of deadlines and projects. We busied ourselves with packing for the move — “sell it or ship it” — and preparing for our lives in America. The crocks were not sold.
In total, we’ll be on the road for just over two months, researching all foods pickled, cured, fermented, dried or otherwise preserved. We’ll start among the decidedly Central Asian minorities of western China and traveling eastwards, looking for people who process their own food and how these ingredients are used in their cooking. Come November, we’ll return to Beijing to process mustard greens and cabbage for winter. In January, I’ll begin experimenting with Chinese preservation techniques in Atlanta, reunited with my fermentation crocks.
Yesterday marks yet another milestone: our first full week of travel. Here are some pickles, ferments, and cures made by Kazaks, Huis, Uighurs, and Han Chinese from Sichuan and Henan, all found in Xinjiang: