For March I thought we’d try a few to take advantage of that bargain
basement priced cabbage the stores trot out for St. Paddy’s day.
Cabbage is one of the earlier cultivated vegetables, prized by Ancient
Egyptians and Greeks. Cabbage appeared in Northern Europe about 2,000
years ago bred up from coastal plants that still grow wild in some
places. Red cabbage joined the family in the sixteenth century.
Cato, in his On Agriculture, offers a great many notes about cabbage,
mostly medicinal recommendations. but several of the preparations such
as cooking cabbage with pork and a raw salad dressed with salt, vinegar
or a little vinegar honey sound very familiar
On cabbage as an aid to digestion. He says-
Cabbage surpasses all vegetables. Eat it either cooked or raw: if you
eat it raw, dress it with vinegar. It aids digestion remarkably and does
the bowels good, and the urine will be beneficial for all purposes.
If you want to drink a lot and eat copiously at a party, eat as much
cabbage as you want, raw, dressed with vinegar, before dining. Then,
when about to dine, eat about 5 leaves. You will feel as if you had
eaten nothing, and you can drink as much as you want.
Anthimus says “…cabbages are only suitable in winter, for they produce
We can hardly think of German food without thinking about sauerkraut,
but my German sources (someone out there probably has a lot more than I
do) only touch on cabbage in a few instances, perhaps because it was too
common to warrant being written about.
Das Kochbuch des Meisters Eberhard contributes this view of cabbage -
Cabbage is hot and dries out the body and makes people sing well. The
juice coming from it is good to drink for sick people and makes bad
blood, and Rhazes says it causes many bad dreams. It causes bowel
movements and softens the chest and the throat, and Orbasius orders
people who have a disease [the dropsy?] in the loins or hands and feet
to eat cabbage.
And from Ein Kochbuch aus dem Archiv des Deutschen Ordens A 15th
century cookbook from East Prussia translated by Giano Balestriere we
have this recipe.
If you want to make pickled cabbage
Boil white cabbage heads, take two parts mustard and one part honey, mix
them with wine and add caraway. /einþ/ (?) it enough, put the boiled
cabbage into it and serve it cold. You can also season the broth and
Cabbage is available year round and can be an inexpensive ingredient to
balance more pricey items on your feast menu. While cabbage has a long
history, and was often praised for its medicinal qualities, it continues
to have a reputation of being peasant food.