Have you ever eaten jicama
Interview: Claudia from Swisscultured
I talked to Claudia from Swisscultured. The native Mexican offers fermentation courses in English in Zurich. She was an important person on my fermentation path, because in her course I made my first steps with milk kefir and sauerkraut. She has had interesting experiences with fermented foods in connection with her allergies. I am very happy that Claudia took the time for this interview.
Claudia, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, where do you live now and who is important in your life?
Hello! I come from a city on the Gulf of Mexico called Veracruz. Today I live in a small town near Zurich with my husband, 3 spirited children and a cheeky dog.
You are from Mexico. Did you grow up with fermented foods or did you even see people fermenting foods as a child?
My mother comes from the south of Mexico, a place called Tabasco. She did tepache regularly. Tepache is a fermented drink made from pineapple and piloncillo, a typical sugar from Mexico. My mother also regularly had pozol at home, which is made from fermented corn and cocoa beans. This drink is typical of Tabasco, only the people from there drink it.
What sparked your interest in fermented foods?
About 2 years after my arrival in Switzerland, I began to suffer from seasonal allergies. I then regularly took antihistamines prescribed by the doctor. But when I became pregnant with my first child, I wanted to avoid all kinds of drugs. We lived in the UK a few years later and two of my children were born there. I didn't have to take any medication there. But every time I returned to Switzerland in the spring, my allergies flared up again. They were so bad that I even lost my hearing for two consecutive years! So when I found out that we would be returning to Switzerland in 2013, I did a lot of research into how to cure or treat allergies naturally. All of my research has shown that the colon must be healed first. That's why I got interested in fermented foods. I traveled to England for this purpose as there were no fermentation courses in Zurich at the time. I had attended a few courses there and that got me started.
What happened to your allergies after you started eating fermented foods?
My allergies have definitely decreased. I can't say I am completely cured, but I no longer take antihistamines and I can breathe!
Why did your allergies improve with fermented foods?
I started to pay more attention to what I was eating. I started avoiding processed foods and eating more naturally. I also ate fermented foods on a regular basis. They improve the overall system. I also drink the sauerkraut brine when I start to have a sore throat or otherwise don't feel so good. Usually then I don't need to take pain relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs.
Where did you learn the art of fermentation and who inspires you today?
I learned a lot from books and online. I also started experimenting at home, and eventually I attended a course at a Weston A. Price Conference in London a few years ago. I am very inspired by Sandor Katz, I love his philosophy. He likes to share his knowledge and teaches others so that they can get well too. I have all of his books and I also follow his interviews.
What is your favorite fermentation book?
There are two books that I really like and that I recommend to anyone who wants to learn about the importance of food for our health. One is called the Gut-and-Psychology-Diet, or GAPS Diet by Dr. Natascha Campbell-McBride, she talks about the intestine and explains very well how it is damaged and how we can repair it. And the other book is called “Brain Maker”: The power of the intestinal microbes to heal and protect the brain - for life ”by Dr. David Mother of Pearl.
What kind of food and drink do you ferment regularly?
I drink milk kefir every day. I also have sauerkraut in the fridge, but sometimes I forget to eat it. We also have pickled jalapeños, a typical chilli from Mexico, they are delicious!
What was the strangest thing you ever experienced fermenting?
Well I had a nice fermenting surprise. I don't usually eat cauliflower, but once fermented with garlic and onions, it's so delicious that I can't stop eating it.
Have you ever had a fermentation accident?
Oh many! I made water kefir in advance for a workshop I was teaching. During the second fermentation, I added fresh, ripe fruit. But when I opened the bottle, the whole thing shot up like a fountain and there was nothing left for my students to try. I also smuggled jicama, a typical root vegetable from Mexico that you can't buy here. I had prepared it in Mexico and let it ferment in a nice glass in my suitcase. The suitcase fell when we got home and the whole glass broke into many small pieces. And many other things. It's all part of the experience.
What is your Swisscultured project about?
My goal is to share a love for fermented foods and a healthy lifestyle in general. I believe fermented foods can improve our overall health. They are cheap and easy to make. If everyone were to eat fermented foods regularly, I believe we would all be healthier!
Thank you, Claudia!
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