Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book Pre-Sale and Private Reading / Rare Beer Night Invitation

Here is a link for you to click.

A few weeks ago I had a realization: I really needed to eat rotten shark meat before the end of the year.

A month or so previous I had eaten some Century Eggs that I'd acquired in Chinatown. These mucus-green, gelatin-like fermented eggs were  while surprisingly innocent in taste  almost certainly one of the most horrifying-looking foods I'd ever consumed. But they were fairly easy to acquire, and they definitely didn't smell like death incarnate. As far as bizarre and unusual fermented food traditions, they were fitting as a marker of the halfway point of my year. But I'd need something even more bizarre and challenging to end on. After all, while much of the mission of the book is to educate people on the ways microbes impact us and our food on an every-day basis — far more than most of us realize — part of the goal also is to illustrate what fermentation is. And what better way to illustrate how deep the magic of fermentation goes than to personally gag my way through one of the most pungent, unique, and intimidating foods in the world? Rotten shark meat from Iceland, for example. Truly, I understand the fundamentals of education.

Hákarl is made by burying the poisonous flesh of a Greenland shark in the ground for months. After fermentation, it is theoretically fit for human consumption, but retains some delightful properties: the high content of urea is gone, but an overwhelming odor of ammonia remains. For unfathomable reasons that I hope to get to the bottom of, this food has become a cherished delicacy in Iceland.

Various notable eaters-of-things have described hákarl as one of the most horrifying foods on earth. It's reputation for smelling like something that should kill you while not actually killing you is fairly impressive. One of my favorite descriptions from a hákarl-tryer will have to be paraphrased: like encountering a Dementor in the Harry Potter series, the experience is not only a terrifying experience in the present, but from that moment onward robs you of the ability to ever feel joy again.

Sadly, in spite of its popularity, hákarl is unavailable outside of Iceland. But we can all agree, I clearly must try this stuff for the book, which means I must go to Iceland for a few days at the end of the year, which means I am doing a pre-sale of my book to raise the money necessary to go to Iceland (because I am a writer, and therefore cannot afford trips to Iceland). I am happy to try hákarl so you don't have to, but it's going to take some planning and effort.

Another thing we can all agree on: crowd-funding is pretty silly, so I want to keep this as straight-forward as possible. Consider this no more than a pre-sale, if you want — a pre-sale which happens to ensure that a very fun chapter of the book can be written.

You can, right now, pre-order a copy of The Fermented Man, right here. So go ahead and ease your future self's purchasing obligations and avoid the tedious, dangerous experience of shopping online for books at Amazon. Instead, I will sign a copy of the book just for you, maybe even doodle a picture of a bear or a little anthropomorphic lactobacillus or something, and mail the book right to your address of choice (when it's released, of course).

Or, if you wish, consider it an invitation to a very fun book preview event I'll be holding next year (most likely in May, but exact date and location TBA), during which we will all enjoy a lovely sampling of various fermented foods and destroy my extensive collection of vintage Bear Flavored beverages, as well as several Very Special Kegs containing even more delicious beverages. I will regale those select few in attendance with tales of fermented shark meat, and great times will be had by all. (You will also get a signed copy of the book once it's out, of course). I'm going to pull a lot of strings for this event to make sure it's something special.

More details, of course, over on my IndieGoGo page.

So, lock down your signed copy of The Fermented Man now (it's going to be awesome), consider joining me for an Evening of Good Times (also awesome), and sleep better at night knowing that I'm going to try to put one of the most foul-smelling foods on earth down my mouth at the end of December.

I'm getting closer and closer to the end of the year, and the next few months will certainly be interesting. Thanks to everyone for your support and interest in the book, I can't wait to share it with all of you!


  1. Best of luck! Looking forward to hearing about your experiences.

  2. This is a great idea, on multiple levels, and it's clear you're going to reach your goal well before November! Congrats! I totally want to contribute at the level of attending the tasting / reading. Gonna go convince my employers to cut me an extra check...


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