by Anna Sigrithur

Ruminants chewing and re-chewing their cud has shaped human civilization. By grace of their unique four-chambered stomach and its microbiome, plant material indigestible to humans is transformed into food for the animal and for others.

Yet the rumen itself, the chamber of the stomach responsible for this microbial breakdown of plant matter, also contains a nutrient-dense slurry known as ‘green soup’ that has been eaten as a last-minute supplement by herders and hunters around the world.

Roberto and I wondered if we could interact with this process in vitro to create new dishes, or to render edible new ingredients. But a question began to gnaw at us, forcing us to some rumination of our own: When it comes to food traditions, is there a line between surviving and thriving? Or is it less a line than a loop? And what is the value in trying to translate ephemeral, in-the-field food experiences into dishes in the kitchen?