ok it a food thread already--but lots of different cultures have used lye to 'cure food'
olives, lukefish, and hominy are the first three that come to mind..

acid and salt are also used.

the romans used a 'fish sauce' that gave every indication of being rotten --except it wasn't-- which was a good thing, since they put the stuff on damn near everything.. (ancient day equivient of the standard american and ketchup)

cheese is just curdled milk that we all agree is edible.. (and the same goes double for 'blue cheeses'.