Happy February 17th! There are three holidays on the ol’ food calendar today: National Indian Pudding Day, National Cafe Au Lait Day, and National Cabbage Day. When given an option we’re likely to avoid a dessert, since there are so many. And drinking coffee is too easy. So, we opted today to celebrate National Cabbage Day.
Do you know where cabbage grows? In a cabbage patch, dolls and guys.
(See what I did there?)
Wild cabbage existed long before creepy looking dolls, first appearing in England. It was cultivated and domesticated around 1000 B.C. and spread throughout Europe, where it grew very well in the cool northern climate. Greeks and Romans believed cabbage had medicinal properties, and could help those suffering from gout, headaches, and poisonous mushroom ingestion. Dutch sailors went so far as using sauerkraut to prevent scurvy. By the 17th century it became a food staple in many countries, including Germany and Russia, and is in fact considered Russia’s National Food (a fact which surprises me…I’d have guessed beets). Cabbage is considered a good cash crop due to its short growing season (three months). It can be used in many different ways: from eaten raw to steamed, pickled, sauteed, stewed, and braised. But the reward for Oddest Use Of Cabbage Ever goes to baseball legend Babe Ruth, who wore a cabbage leaf beneath his cap during games in order to keep his head cool. He would switch it out for a new leaf every two innings. I’m not sure what he did with the old leaf, but I gotta admit it wouldn’t totally surprise me if he just ate it.
Cabbage is closely related to broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel’s sprouts, and my aunt Nancy. Interestingly, I despise cauliflower and Brussel’s sprouts, but am quite fond of broccoli and cabbage. (And my aunt Nancy, too).
Given the variety of preparation methods, we could have gone in a dozen different directions for this challenge. In the end, Tara made fish tacos topped with a mixture of onions, Anaheim chilies, and strips of raw cabbage. The crunchiness of the cabbage perfectly complemented the soft chewiness of the fish and the kicked-up tartar sauce. It was delicious, and the cabbage was a perfect accompaniment.