Today we decided to go see the Senne / Zenne, the river that runs through Brussels. To do this we had to go into the Musee des Egouts (sewer museum), as the Zenne was converted into an offical sewer system, after so long being an unofficial one. The Senne was described by John Lothrop Motley (an American diplomat and historian) in 1853 as "the most nauseous little river in the world, which receives all the outpourings of all the drains and houses, and is then converted into beer for the inhabitants". This explains both the lethal cholera epidemic of 1866 and the accompanying popular song:
See the Senne and die.
Die of pleasure?
No, die of typhus or cholera.
By chance, after visiting the Zenne in the sewer museum, I happened to have a Zenne Bir, a local beer brewed from the waters of the Zenne, with lunch at our favourite Brussels restuarant, Houtsiplou.