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Sourdough Starter and Nukadoko: Musings and Metaphors


A toasted slice of homemade sourdough bread with pickled Kanazawa carrot.
Photo of rectangular bread with green carrot and thick piece of butter on wood.

The nukadoko and my sourdough starter both spent the vacation tucked away in the refrigerator. I worried about them, but I also imagined them hibernating and dreaming of vegetables, loaves of bread. However, I also liked to think the two of them had plenty to discuss during their stay.

I wonder now, of course, if they did converse, would it be small talk like two strangers waiting at a bus stop or would it be like two big wedding parties in separate halls at the same hotel suddenly realizing how much they have in common? Each is, after all, made up of the wild yeasts that live in my house, my kitchen, and even on my hands. 

Kanazawa heirloom carrot and regular cucumber after vacation.
Photo of fat green carrot halves and cucumber halves on the brown lid.

Would some of the guests meet in the hallway, admiring outfits, wondering what the protocol is for such occasions? Or would they meet in the restroom, casting surreptitious glances at gowns and hairdos, while listening in on conversations, and trying to figure out if they are actually at the same wedding but just don't know each other? Would they notice their similarities, one whispering to another like my mother does at these events about how much that tall woman looks just like so-and-so or that surely that man in the brown jacket is related to so-and-so because of a memory called up by the shape of his smile. I nod at names of people I vaguely recall from stories told while looking at old family photos or from long ago reunions or afternoons around a farm kitchen table with coffee and homemade cookies. Is that what happened?

Nukadoko pot next to a container of sakekasu zuke.
(More on that later.)
Photo of brown ceramic container with matching lid next to plastic rectangular container.

My nukadoko and sourdough starter are related as they contain wild yeasts from the same general hometown: my kitchen. There is some of Elizabeth's nukadoko paste infused with mine, too, which surely means that the 'newcomers' would also have some great stories to tell as they bide their time in my refrigerator. Are her lactobacillus like the distant relatives or friends that everyone wonders about and gathers around when they finally have a chance to meet and ask if they are with the bride or groom, did they travel far, where are they staying. Generations in the making, the lactobacillus from her paste have been around longer than mine and come from so many places. What tales will they tell?

Sourdough starter snuggled next to the coffee maker. 
Photo of jar with cloth covering on metal counter next to coffee maker.

Both seemed happy enough to resume their positions in the kitchen, the starter next to the coffee maker and stove, the nukadoko on the shelf near the sink, and both have since offered up delectable items - breads and pancakes from the starter and an assortment of pickles from the nukadoko - for our meals and snacks. I wonder what they recall from their time in the refrigerator, if they send missives through the air now and again. 


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