As a favor to a gardener friend in Montecito, Calif., I agreed to give a speech at a dinner meeting of the national flower-show judges of the Garden Clubs of America, held under the glorious Tiffany skylight of the main dining room of that pinnacle of well-born New York femininity, The Colony Club. Since the only plants I know much about are grown for the table, and lecturing to flower ladies about edible blooms seemed a bit like giving a speech on infanticide to obstetricians, I was stumped about picking a subject.* To the rescue came
So I told them about leaves used for wrapping food, about stuffed grape leaves and tamales (corn husk-wrapped and avocado leaf-wrapped) and a great many others, which the assembled judges purported to judge completely fascinating. First among these intrafoliate dishes was, of course, stuffed cabbage.
Like the wheel, this ingenious dodge for enclosing food in a protective, edible, nonpastry container was invented in many places by many cultures that had access to cheap cabbage and ovens. There are basically two ways to proceed: Stuff individual leaves or as below, leave the head intact, smear the farce on the leaves and then tie up the treated cabbage so that it looks as if nothing had happened to it.
*Even the word “picking” had taken on a controversial flavor, so to speak.
© 2007 Raymond Sokolov. All rights reserved.