At a Korean superstore in Las Vegas, I watched an employee whose sole job, it seemed, was organizing a vast array of kimchee. Her domain consisted of thousands of plastic tubs of fermented fish and vegetables in various combinations, usually spicy. She darted about the immense display cases and scrutinized the tubs' arrangement, rearranging their contents like beads on a giant abacus.
My feeling observing her that day roughly sums up how I feel about the process of fermentation generally: a mixture of awe and fear. The process is like some potent voodoo that could give you special powers or torture you to death.