Fermentation is the most common cooking technique worldwide and primates have relied on bacteria and fungi to transform our food for far longer than fire. Even birds do it.
Most people’s refrigerators are stuffed with condiments, dairy products, meats, fish, grains, and fruits that have undergone fermentation. What would civilization even look like without ketchup, coffee, chocolate, cheese, soy sauce, and pickles? Count me out.
A whole slew of microorganisms are responsible, including brewer’s and baker’s favorite fungus saccharomyces cerevisiae and the more exotic and rapacious aspergillus oryzae. The latter digests not only sugar, but also starch, protein, and fat, melting it all down into the delicious enzymatic slurries we know as soy sauce, miso, garum, and even saki wine.