Pickling and fermentation were probably invented out of necessity, as pre-industrial societies needed ways to preserve the harvest and provide sustenance through the winter. In more recent times, pickling and fermentation have become ways to create new flavors, enliven a meal, eat locally throughout the year, or improve the nutritional value and digestibility of a set of ingredients. Recent feature articles in the food sections of the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times point to a new popularity for pickles in restaurants and home kitchens. Read more

During a recent visit to the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, a bag of tepary beans at the Rancho Gordo stand called out to me as I struggled to make a few choices from their incredible variety of offerings. I knew that they were an ancient bean associated with Native Americans and so I bought a pound. The variety I purchased are small and pale green in color. The photo shows them along with a kidney bean and black bean for scale. Read more

When news of the discovery of gold in California spread around the world, thousands flocked to the West to try to strike it rich. In 1849 alone, 42,000 people traveled overland, 1,500 took a route across Panama, 6,000 Mexicans came north, 41,000 took the long sea route around Cape Horn. A sleepy little village in 1848, over the next few years San Francisco exploded in population and wealth, becoming the capital of the West. Read more