Wednesday, 17 March 2010


It was 1988 and I was in Grade Four. We learned a lot about the First Fleet that year, the tall ships and short ships and hardships. We also learned about general aspects of eighteenth century sailing, such as the invention of the sextant (cue uncontrollable giggling from assembled nine-year-olds) and James Cook's use of sauerkraut as a prophylactic against scurvy.

Our teacher seemed particularly taken by the latter, and invited one of the mothers (possibly Mrs Schumacher) to demonstrate to the class the art of making sauerkraut. The concoction was stuffed inside a ceramic pot, wrapped in a tea towel and placed in a cupboard underneath the blackboard, there to ferment until ready to be eaten.

Weeks later, however, when the pot was retrieved and opened, it was discovered that the sauerkraut had attracted the wrong sort of bacteria and was in an advanced state of decomposition. The sauerkraut, along with the pot and tea towel, was thrown in the bin.

Within days the entire class was dead from scurvy.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

I was just thinking about this very incident earlier today! More foods should be created by sticking them in warm, dark places with minimal oversight. An episode of Masterchef perhaps?