Saturday, August 20, 2005


Alright, you bunch. Cough them up. I want to know where they are.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about a rapidly fading memory of sweet, tender, green cabbage, with a gentle rather than pungent aroma, that you could sauté in butter, drizzle with heavy cream, a good shot of fresh ground pepper and then lap it up. Cabbage that was green when you bought it and after cooking still held a luster of that lovely pastel green.

I couldn’t help but be excited today when I made the dreaded trip to town. Everyone was talking about the fresh cabbages that had just come in at the local grocery store. At last, I thought, a real cabbage. A summer cabbage. A green, tender, freshly picked cabbage. You could understand my excitement if you knew how sick I am of what they call ‘winter cabbages’ with leaves as thick as an overshoe, as tough as an overshoe, emanating an odor similar to an overshoe. The only way to rid winter cabbage of its toughness is to cook it until it is total mush. Sautéing winter cabbage is totally out of the question.

So I raced into the store and examined the fresh cabbages in the bin. They were much, much bigger than I thought they would be. They were whiter, less green, than I thought they would be. But nevertheless, I bought three of them all the while thinking about gently-sautéed sweet tender cabbage coated with fresh cream and seasoned with salt and freshly-ground pepper.

Now I have a thing about cabbages. I don’t grow them in my own garden because of the worms. As soon as you see little powder-blue butterflies flitting about you know they are laying eggs that will quickly turn into disgusting cabbage worms. The solution for many in this area is to regularly shake generous plumes of insecticide powder on the cabbages while they are growing.

Now you know how a cabbage forms. One layer tightly compressed against the next. Doesn’t that mean that as each layer of that cabbage tightly forms around the previous that there is an awful lot of insecticide powder trapped in between those layers? When I see the neighbors in the cabbage patch I can’t help but think that I would much prefer a cabbage grown inside old pantyhose (another less common method of preventing the butterflies from laying eggs on the plants). I’ve never tried this method but many say it works perfectly. Others feel different however. One of the neighbors who loves cabbage soup said he’d swear off cabbage for life if he ever saw it growing inside his wife’s panty hose.

Anyway when I came home from the dreaded trip to town, I had three fresh cabbages, origin unknown, but highly suspect that there was a goodly amount of insecticide trapped in those compact heads. So I coarsely chopped the cabbage and washed it thoroughly in a colander. I found a worm. Only one, mind you. But it was comforting in a small way to find one. If perchance I missed one, but I’m damn sure I didn’t, I think I would rather eat a worm than four or five ounces of toxic insecticide. But with my trusty bifocals on, and my reading glasses overtop, that was one gigantic worm that I could readily see. But I guess I know why there was only one insectia in those three monster cabbages – the cabbage had no green coloring, no sweet smell, every leaf was as thick as leather, as tough as leather, etc. etc.


Anonymous Clarence said...

It may be that the cabbages you are looking for are known as "Nappa" cabbages. The heads are usually small in size and the flavor is mild and sweet. I'm not sure about the spelling of the name but I believe it's derived from where they are the Nappa Valley of California.

I love cabbage, potatoes and Polska Kielbasa cooked together making sure there is lots of liquid in the pot at all times. I love the juice most of all. It's a quality, light soup to me.

Grow cabbages inside of panty hose! That's something new to me but I can see how that might be a solution for cabbage worms.

Thanks for the gardening tip.

2:08 AM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Hi Clarence. Thanks for the tip. I will watch for those particular cabbages in the future. Or perhaps I'll just save my old pantyhose and grow my own.

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How disappointing, Roberta. I feel as passionate about summer tomatoes. In the middle of winter I long for the scent of fresh tomatoes, and the texture of a tomato that has ripened under the sun.

I've never heard of growing cabbages in panty hose, but I've seen them used to support pumpkins and squash. I'd give it a try!


8:18 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Hi Buffy. A good day to you.

As for tomatoes, you don't even want me to get started on that rant. The vine-ripened ones are so expensive, but like I say to Hub, I rather have one small feed of something that tastes somewhat like a garden tomato, than a grand feed of something affordable that tastes like sliced cardboard.

11:05 AM  

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