So here I am in the fermenting vessel! Bubbling with an obligation to speak for the family of fermented cabbage. For decades, we were only fermented to provide a source of nutrients when food was in short supply. Ah, when I think of James Cook taking a store of us on his sea voyages, since experience had taught him we prevented scurvy. That was one of Cook’s most important discoveries!
In those days we were a necessity, quietly bubbling away with beneficial bacteria. From ancestors introduced to Europe by the Tartars in their saddlebags, we were well made, nourishing, yes, but not fashionable. Those ancestors had no name. They were simply sour cabbage. Today, along side my Korean cousin, kimchi, we are fashionable cabbage side dishes and indeed, superfoods.
However, it hasn’t always been this way. The 20th century’s war on bacteria and a sterilised food system wasn’t kind to us. Humans don’t know this, but it took willpower for cabbages to overcome this. Desire, even. I had a dream: to produce the most delicious by-products of decay that I possibly could; to make the gut more comfortable for those around me. Do you know recent medical research has concluded that one of the problems with the Western diet is the absence from it of live-culture foods? I saw myself as the solution.
I made a wish and the fairies gathered around my patch. Or rather, the foodies around my inner-city, organic, community garden. All believers in authenticity; master chefs, food writers, nutritionists. They crafted me into something different, something Cook could not achieve – making my yeasty funkiness fashionable. I am more than a little proud to have cinched our common destiny.
But now I shall be silent. With my cabbage like wrinkled ears, I listen to the murmur of diners, the quivering of large intestines unaccustomed to my probiotics, the flatulence. Victory. I’d love to respond, clapping my cabbage like hands. But shhh… I have fermenting do to.
What are some of your stories from the fermenting vessel?