What does cabbage mean
Cabbage found ideal growing conditions, especially in northern Germany. Cabbage is not very demanding, but it loves nutrient-rich soils and needs a regular supply of water. It thrived particularly well in the German coastal regions.
Northern Germany was long a stronghold of cabbage - which is still reflected today in festivals and the notorious cabbage rides. In the district of Dithmarschen in Schleswig-Holstein there is even a Kohlstrasse, which leads from Brunsbüttel over the towns on the coast north to Wesselburen and ends at Büsum.
The cabbage tradition is also upheld in other German areas, for example on the Fildern, a growing area on a plateau in the south of the Baden-Württemberg state capital Stuttgart, where the Filderkraut Festival, Germany's largest cabbage festival, is celebrated every year in October.
Poor people's food
Over the centuries, the cabbage has often proven to be a salvation for the population when times of need arose or a particularly harsh winter had to be survived. The cabbage gained a reputation as "poor people's food". Exceptions were most likely cauliflower and broccoli, which were considered noble and which were not banned from fine cuisine.
After the Second World War, it was the Americans and the English who gave the Germans the ungodly nickname "Krauts". In the 19th century, imports from overseas gave the cultivation of cabbage a boost: The cultivation of cabbage was not only extremely profitable, but also replaced that of grain, which lost market value due to cheap imports and whose cultivation was no longer profitable for farmers.
After the Second World War, interest in cabbage declined. The structure of the farms that grew cabbage vegetables changed. Instead of many small businesses, the large ones now predominantly took over production.
Today cabbage is experiencing a small renaissance in Germany: old varieties that had been forgotten due to industrial cultivation are being rediscovered. Regional peculiarities arouse the interest of consumers.
And the gastronomy, in which the white cabbage in particular has often had a difficult time in the past decades, is also using the versatile vegetables for the upscale cuisine.
Today, cabbage vegetables are grown on all continents. North and South America are particularly well represented in broccoli, cauliflower predominates in Australia, and white cabbage is most strongly represented in Europe and the states of the former Soviet Union.
And white cabbage heads especially grow in Africa too. They thrive especially in highland regions where there is sufficient rainfall and less heat. The leaders in cultivation are Kenya and Egypt, Ethiopia, Niger and South Africa.
So it's no wonder that cabbage vegetables can be found on menus all over the world. Cabbage and lamb are the main ingredients in the Norwegian almost national dish Fårikål, also known as "lamb in cabbage". Cabbage is also traditionally found in Poland's cuisine, especially in the national dish bigos, a sour and white cabbage stew.
Even in Brazil's national dish Feijoada, which is said to be originally of African origin, you can find cabbage in addition to beans and pork, depending on the recipe.
In all Eastern European countries the head of cabbage is traditionally on the menu. In Russia it is indispensable for shchi, the Russian cabbage soup, and cabbage rolls. Ukrainians like to use it as an ingredient in borsch.
There are hundreds of cabbage recipes in Turkey - from white cabbage casserole to fried cauliflower to cabbage rolls. And the Portuguese share the northern Germans' preference for kale: they use it, for example, for the "Caldo verde" cream soup, one of their national dishes.
In Asia, too, cabbage is one of the most popular vegetables and is grown en masse in many countries such as China, Japan and Korea. The Chinese have been using Chinese cabbage in their cuisine for thousands of years. In Korea, cabbage in the form of pak choi or Chinese cabbage is an indispensable part of the national dish kimchi. In Japan, where a lot of vegetables are traditionally eaten, it is called Japanese cabbage.
A well-known dish from India is pekora, fried vegetables that are often made with cauliflower. The Indian sambhara, a vegetarian dish, also includes cabbage alongside other vegetables. And what about the Americans, who gave the Germans the name "Krauts"? Among other things, they love their cole slaw, a white cabbage salad with a little carrot and lots of mayonnaise.
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