Ode to Cabbage

April 20, 2018

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I think about cabbage. A lot. Probably more than anyone who isn't a cabbage farmer should. Hell, maybe even more than they do.They only grow this amazing vegetable for the affordable price of $.99 a head whilst I consider the impact and consequences it has shaped in my life. What I think is the coolest thing about cabbage is the unifier it plays in my identity. Unless you're brand new to this blog, in which case: hey! thanks for reading!, you know I'm adopted and I grew up in PA Dutch country. An iconic dish in this region, as well as Eastern Europe, is sauerkraut. Fermented cabbage. I. LOVE. SAUERKRAUT. When I was studying WWI and WWII in school and learned they called the Germans "Krauts," I briefly considered changing sides and loyalty as anyone who was called a Kraut surely couldn't be bad. Alas, anyone who has ever had a cabbage milkshake knows, sadly, not all things cabbage related are good and this includes global domination. But, since we're back to being buddies with the Germans, let's rave about how awesome cabbage is. My grandmother used to make pork with sauerkraut and she would rinse the sauerkraut before putting it in the crock pot. Her secret was to put a little brown sugar in it with the pork tenderloins and the result was a slightly sweeter dish that was simply incredible. All my parents had to mention was Grandma might be making pork with sauerkraut and miraculously our beds were made, the dishes done, all homework for the next calendar year was completed, and we were diligently at work trying to cure pancreatic cancer. It was such a powerful motivator. I think the reason why my parents didn't hint at this more often was because, let's just say, they don't share the same affinity for the Leaf of Life. And Grandma really didn't like to miss Days of Our Lives.

 

If you mention Korean food, chances are pretty good the first thing you mention is kimchi. Kimchi is heavenly. It is the dish that tells me, no matter what, no matter what my last name might be, or what country I live in, being ethnically Korean is ok. If kimchi and sauerkraut ever got into a Battle Royale, I'd probably finally understand the dilemma parents face as to which child they love more. What a profoundly painful thought to think about. But, since there must always be a winner I'd pick kimchi and hope the consolation prize for sauerkraut is I still get to put it on hot dogs and can stuff it in pierogis. Now, there are some of you who are lunatics and don't like kimchi. I get it. It smells. It's fermented. It's sometimes bubbling, which no cold vegetable dish in my opinion should ever do, but that's the price you pay for greatness. When it finally starts fizzing, my wife insists I throw it out. She's ethnically Danish, so what the hell do they know about good tasting food? I bet you nine dollars someone right now is saying "ummm...they literally named a delicious pastry filled with fruit jams, but preferably cheese a Danish." Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get your point. But, name me a great Danish cabbage dish? Fucking smartass. Gotcha.

 

During St. Patrick's Day, here in the U.S. the masses consume corned beef and what? You guessed, cabbage. Actually, in Ireland, we don't eat corned beef and cabbage. Just like we don't drink Irish car bombs, either. You want to see a horrified Irishman? Describe what an Irish car bomb is. His response will be, "Jaysus, what a waste of perfectly good Guinness." And he would be right. Grow up and drink a White Russian, you Wrigleyville douchebag. The dish in Ireland is boiled bacon and cabbage. Personally, I think the only good thing corned beef is for is in a Reuben sandwich, which is rye bread, corned beef, Russian dressing, swiss cheese, and you got that right, motherfucking sauerkraut!

 

I briefly considered reserving a whole separate post about coleslaw. It's not bbq, a picnic, or fried chicken meals without coleslaw. Shit, just talking about coleslaw makes me want to do a lunch time, driving tour around Smith County and eat nothing but different restaurant versions of coleslaw. There are now so many creative versions of coleslaw. So, get that soupy, mayonnaise, pulverized, cabbage swamp sitting in the deli section out of your head. That shit ain't coleslaw. And, don't put raisins, or pineapple in your coleslaw. That's borderline communism. Let's just reluctantly summarize cole slaw as yet another example of how cabbage is an amazing ingredient. Think about stuffed cabbage rolls. Yummo! Want to lose weight? Forget crystal meth... eat cabbage soup! The pounds come right off, you get to keep all of your remaining teeth, and you don't need to introduce a parole officer into your life!

 

As a person of many relatable identities, it is a comforting thought that all I have to do is go to the grocery store and pick up a head of cabbage. A few moments later, after I have ordered something from a restaurant specializing in that cuisine, I get to have something that connects me to that culture. Maybe now you see why I appreciate cabbage so much and I hope you have a newfound appreciation for it as well, or find something simple in your life achieving the same purpose!

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