by Eric Wharton
My Recipe Book, constantly being added to
Cabbage as a food has problems. It is easy to grow, a useful source of greenery for much of the year. Yet as a vegetable it has original sin, and needs improvement. It can smell foul in the pot, linger through the house with pertinacity, and ruin a meal with its wet flab. Cabbage also has a nasty history of being good for you.
— Jane Grigson, "Vegetable Book," 1978
We know from Apicius that Ancient Roman cooks prepared shredded cabbage dressed with vinegar, eggs, and spices. However, Mayonnaise is an 18th century invention, which means the recipe as we know it today is only about 200 years old.
The earliest European settlers on North America's eastern shores brought cabbage seeds with them, and cabbage was a general favorite throughout the colonies. The Dutch, who founded New Amsterdam (New York State), grew cabbage extensively along the Hudson River. They served it in their old-country ways, often as koolsla (meaning "cabbage salad").
This dish became popular throughout the colonies and survives today as coleslaw. By the 1880s, cabbage and its cousins had fallen from favor with the upper class because of the strong sulfurous odors these vegetables give off when cooking, but this sturdy and versatile vegetable never disappeared from middle-class kitchens.
1 10-oz package finely chopped cabbage (approx. 1⁄4 head cabbage)
2 tbsp white vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Mix all ingredients together and serve. Makes 1/2 quart.
1 head cabbage = 32-48 oz (2-21/2 lbs)
1/2 head cabbage = 16-24 oz (1-11/2 lbs)
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