The work of Pasteur and his many colleagues and predecessors opened up vast new vistas in the fields of biochemistry, microbiology, and fermentation. The term "biochemistry" was first used in English in 1869, but this new science of the application of chemistry to biology was generally called "physiological chemistry" until the early 1900s. The two outstanding pioneers were Liebig and Pasteur. The term "microbiology" was first used in English in 1885, long after Pasteur's major discoveries. But basic knowledge of this new science of the study of minute living organisms closely related to human activity or welfare did not begin to enter the popular consciousness until the early 1900s. At about this time the scientific breakthroughs of the 1870s and 1880s had begun to produce a change in people's conception of the world around them so sweeping and profound as to be termed revolutionary. Food microbiology was finally set on a scientific foundation, based on the action of specific microorganisms. A rational theory of infectious diseases (which formerly were not differentiated from one another) set people's minds free from the age-old fear of vengeance from an unknowable and invisible disease-causing entity. And the ancient theory of spontaneous generation of lower life forms, which said they could arise de novo and fully formed from decomposing matter, was replaced by the verifiable theory of biogenesis. For the first time people began to accept the fact that they shared their environment with multitudes of minute organisms that exerted an ongoing powerful influence on human life. This new world view, among other things, provided a tremendous stimulus for new research on fermented foods.
So by overwhelming demand (mostly by my wife, myself, and a few very vocal readers), I'm doing it all again this year, developing 28 brand new recipes, learning from my mistakes, and surely making a few more in the process. Not only that, but this year I'm bringing a few other folks along for the ride. My wife is planning on going 100% vegan for the month, and maintaining a 100% vegetarian lifestyle for the entire year that follows. Serious Eats National Managing Editor Erin Zimmer is going vegan for the month as well, a tough decision knowing how much she loves eggs and yogurt! Heck, even avowed Serious Eats Overlord Ed Levine , an avowed meat lover and former vegan-scoff-at'er will be joining us for a full week this time 'round.