A True European
The cabbage is associated with an interesting legend. It is said that it was created from the tears of Lycurgus, who was punished by Bacchus (he of the wine-fuelled orgies) for letting himself go too much when drunk.
Cabbage is a typically European plant and, since it appears in Greek mythology, this means that it must have been popular in Ancient Greece. It is also mentioned by Cato the Elder (a Roman orator and writer), who believed in its health qualities and recommended eating it raw, seasoned with nothing but vinegar. Then again, back in those days the doctors recommended consuming cabbage leaves before eating, as they provided efficient protection for the stomach from excessive imbibing of wine. In the following centuries, many varieties of cabbage were cultivated, but the one we are familiar with today didn’t attain its present shape until the Middle Ages.
Its health properties had already been discovered by the end of the late 18th century, when those taking part in ocean expeditions used to suffer from Vitamin C deficiency. The most effective solution turned out to be – sauerkraut! A type of dish prepared from shredded cabbage that is pickled through salting and a process of fermentation. In addition to vitamins, it also provided both phosphorus and potassium, and could be stored for a long time. There is an anecdote doing the rounds that Captain Cook attributed the success of his overseas expeditions above all to the supply of sauerkraut he used to take with him.
Researchers from the Department of Chemistry, Food Technology and Biotechnology at the University of Technology in Gdansk, who have been investigating the health properties of the cabbage, have confirmed its positive effects. Above all, the cabbage helps the human organism by protecting it from toxic compounds, while also strengthening its defense mechanism and possessing healing properties. Due to its detoxifying qualities and ability to improve our physical and mental well-being, cabbage is an excellent remedy for hangover symptoms. It’s not without reason that Bacchus and his wine got that cameo earlier in the article…
The most popular varieties of cabbage:
- spherical white cabbage – is known for giving off an unpleasant smell while being cooked. The reason for it this is its relatively high sulphur content – a mineral that has a beneficial effect on the condition of the hair, skin and nails. White cabbage is popular served as a raw side salad, like coleslaw.
- red cabbage – also called blue kraut. Its head is harder than that of the white cabbage and it contains plenty of Vitamin C.
- Savoy cabbage – dark green, with a pungent, piquant taste, is often used in salads. It has, depending on the variety, more or less wrinkled leaves.
- Chinese leaf – it’s called “white dragon teeth” in China (where it was first cultivated in the 5th century AD) and is the only variety that does not smell while cooking.
- Brussels sprout – yes, yes, who would have thought it?… this mini-cabbage comes from Belgium. It is not very popular, because it’s often simmered too long in soups, at which point it gives off an unpleasant sulphur smell – in fact, it should only be cooked for a few minutes.
- cauliflower – is a plant’s immature inflorescence. Thanks to the large green leaves that cover it, it retains its creamy colour.