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Monday, April 29, 2013


Photo by: Lord Willliams
berzas, vulg. repollo de asa de cántaro, asa de cántaro (stone handle), OCast breças, L. Brassica oleracea (Viridis and Acephala Groups), Ar. malfouf, ME cool (cabbage or kale?), Eng. UK: kale, fodder kale, cow cabbage, collards, USA: tall kale, tree kale, tree cabbage. Generally when referring to cabbage, it is the white loose-headed cabbage from southern Europe or the tight headed from the north. Cookbooks calling for asa de cántaro refer to cabbage from southern Europe. It is nicked named asa de cántero or “stone handle,” in Spanish for the durability and handle shaped leaves. It grows in humid soil where it is planted deep into the ground. Laguna warned that the vineyard and cabbage hated each other to the point that the vines would not grow if cabbage was planted near them.

During the Middle Ages, it was consumed raw, boiled and with fish or meat as today. Spaniards, from northern regions, eat it with botillo del bierzo (cabbage boiled in an animal’s stomach) or serve it with codfish in Leon. In Galicia, it is boiled in water for three hours in a tightly closed pot or presser cooker with lard from hens and pork, half of a hen, bones and fava beans. It is served in soup bowls.

Since Roman times cow cabbage has been considered the poor man’s food but some recipe books insinuate that Europeans did have some “poor” kings and aristocrats. For the poor and rich eating cabbage was considered to bring good luck in medieval times. The culinary value has been less appreciated then the medical benefits because over cooked cabbage smells awful. [Ares. “Comidas.” 1994:95:97-98:100; ES: Benavides–Barajas. “Cocina.” Sep 29, 01; Curye. 1985:181; ES: Herbs. Oct 8, 02; and ES: Murrah, Nov 12, 02; Fernández Muníz. 1994:188; Pacho. “Cocina.” 1994:155; Villar. 1994:182; and Villena/Calero. 2002:23a]

A favorite for a winter's day
Photo: Lord-Williams


4 qt broth
1 kale or cow cabbage
100 gr fatty bacon finely sliced
2 onions quartered


Wash kale and quarter the leaves. Add them to a pot. Melt the bacon and pour it into the pot. Add the onions. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and boil gently 10 minutes. When the leaves start to fall apart turn them with a wooden spoon. Do not overcook. Remove from heat and let rest before serving.

To prevent bad odors it is said that one should not over cook. The Spanish Medieval Chef adds a tablespoon of vinegar when adding the cabbage.


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  4. Many thanks for your compliment. It has taken years of research plus practice in the kitchen as I am a historian, not necessarily a cook. I am fortunate to have good friends with more culinary experience to help me because the medieval recipes do not list quantities for the most part.