Marcus Cato wrote of cabbage in On Agriculture that it “surpasses all other vegetables. It may be eaten either cooked or raw; if you eat it raw, dip it into vinegar. It promotes digestion marvellously and is an excellent laxative, and the urine is wholesome for everything. If you wish to drink deep at a banquet and to enjoy your dinner, eat as much raw cabbage as you wish, seasoned with vinegar, before dinner, and likewise after dinner eat some half a dozen leaves; it will make you feel as if you had not dined, and you can drink as much as you please.”
He also said that “if you save the urine of a person who eats cabbage habitually, heat it, and bathe the patient in it, he will be healed quickly; this remedy has been tested. Also, if babies are bathed in this urine they will never be weakly; those whose eyes are not very clear will see better if they are bathed in this urine; and pain in the head or neck will be relieved if the heated urine is applied. If a woman will warm the privates with this urine, they will never become diseased. The method is as follows: when you have heated it in a pan, place under a chair whose seat has been pierced. Let the woman sit on it, cover her, and throw garments around her.”
So, smart people understand that cabbage is awesome. Appropriately, I would say, the cabbage we eat today did not exist during the Roman Era, or even during the Middle Ages. A rabbit-holish web quest will show that what Cato called cabbage was a plant more akin to collards or kale (colewort – with cole slaw meaning a salad made of cole, or to use the longer name: collard).
Whatever the case, Saturday was Kraut day. It is unseasonably warm for February – after a rather cool winter – and something seems to be getting the cabbage. So I composted the bad ones, harvested the good ones, and made Kraut. Alex made the first batch – and his first batch ever – even though he has never eaten it. I believe, however, that preparing Kraut, jellies, etc. makes us enjoy the food a little more – and be happier about eating it even if it doesn’t taste great. The act of preparing our own food gives us a different perspective on eating.