Brussel Sprouts and Cabbage

Cabbage, Nature, Vegetable, Green

They’ve existed since the 16th century and found their way through Europe and across the channel to the British Islands in their native Belgium. Their larger relatives, cabbage and kale, had grown wild and are believed to have been domesticated centuries before from the Celts, presumably before 1000 B.C. Although the Romans are often given credit for introducing this vegetable to their European allies, the humble cabbage looks in food histories and is generally credited to the Celts, as their armies invaded the Mediterranean areas, where the Romans embraced it (but they most certainly did not embrace the Celtic armies). It became a favorite food, as it was simple and cheap to grow and could be dropped into a pot of boiling water and eaten plain or in a soup or stew. No blue-blooded Irishman would celebrate St. Patrick’s Day without a plate of corned beef and cabbage.

Throughout history, conquering armies have taken their popular foods into other countries and, based upon the climates and growing conditions, cabbage took on different colors and appearances. Irrespective of who gets the nod for detecting this popular vegetable, it was widely accepted in Europe and often fermented and chopped. (Once again, explorer Marco Polo missing out detecting cabbage in his travels but possibly ate it in his native Italy.)

Cabbage made its appearance in America around 1700 and was probably grown and eaten by the colonists, as well as some Native Americans. Centuries before, cut and initially eaten with vinaigrette, the Dutch took coleslaw into a new (and less healthy) level by adding egg, some type of fat and dairy, usually in the shape of our mayonnaise. This version was referenced in American literature as far back as 1785. Some daring chefs added shredded carrots and jazzed it up a bit, but the basic recipe still dominates American menus. Because it was highly perishable and cluttered, it certainly was not packed to the bags of army soldiers or cowboys, but it has thrived as a favorite side dish with all-American sandwiches, hot dogs and burgers, and a popular salad with barbeque and fried chicken.

When the wildly popular fast food restaurant that specializes in poultry removed it from their menu, there was a national uproar (including from this author). They replaced it with a kale salad, but that just didn’t cut it for coleslaw fans, which attests to its popularity.

And speaking of shredded cabbage, the Germans, Czechs and Polish all have their cherished fermented sauerkraut, which is generally served as a hot vegetable. Jewish delis
Serve it cold as a side for sandwiches and a major filling in Reuben sandwiches.

So where does this leave our Brussels sprouts? More than 90 percent of the U.S. supply of those miniature cabbages are grown in the cool climate of San Francisco and
Agricultural regions just south of the Bay. Estimated total United States production is well over 35,000 metric tons annually. For all you Brussels sprouts haters, you can blame the French settlers who brought them to the U.S. around 1800. Production started in the Louisiana delta and eventually found its way to the West Coast where the developing climate was more favorable.

Though they are a popular item on holiday tables, this author advises that you follow recipes from top chefs to ensue they turn out tasty, firm and well-seasoned. And by the way, Brussels sprouts top the list as the most hated vegetable in the U.S. and always make the top five list worldwide. So for those people in that camp, they’ll be absent from the family dinner table. Bon appetit. For more go to¬†Melbourne FL Squirrel Removal

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