I gave a short workshop on saliva-assisted fermentation at the Biohack Retreat Klöntal: Welcome to the Klöntal Chicheria.
Chicha is an alcoholic beverage made from starchy roots, like manioc, grains, maize and fruits. The basic process in the production of chicha involves chewing the starchy ingredients. There is an enzyme in our saliva, alpha-amylase, which breaks down the starch into sugars. Those sugars are then left for fermentation.
The process of chewing is tedious and better done as group. It’s a wonderful moment to come together and have a chat. Fermentation is always collaboration, not only with humans, but also with the environment. The transformation of your raw material into precious, tasty and long lasting food is done by microbes. By preparing the raw material, you firstly make food for your non-human collaborators.
Fermentation is multi-species practice. And the process of brewing chicha involves offering your own bodily manifestation to the environment through your saliva.