Thursday, July 28, 2011

Radishes and Cabbages.

This day is the anniversary of the death (by execution) in 1941 of Georgii Dmitrievich Karpechenko (born 1899.)  The Russian biologist was the first scientist to create a new species of vegetable, hence his interest to us as food scholars and enthusiasts. Karpechenko produced, in 1925, by artificial hybridization of two ancient staples – the radish (Raphanus) and the cabbage (Brassica) - something called Raphanobrassica. The plant turned out to have a cabbage root and a radish flower-top – which, scientific miracle though it undoubtedly  is, is not,  from the eating-point of view, as good as the reverse arrangement would have been.

Karpechenko was an innocent victim of the political environment of his time. He was falsely accused of belonging to a group with anti-Soviet sentiments, was arrested, sentenced to death, and executed.

In his honour, I give the following recipe:

Cabbage Soup.
Eight large turnips, four carrots, one parsnip, the solid white part of twelve leeks, four onions; fry as many of them as will cover the bottom of a small frying-pan with a bit of butter; when brown add water and give them a boil or two; put them in a sauce-pan in a gallon of water; add a bunch of sweet herbs and the head of two cabbages; four roots of cellery, some pepper, and ginger, and a bone of bacon with a little meat on it, not more than half a pound; boil away about half, scumming it nicely, strain it, put in a cabbage that has been boiled cut small; stew it a little, and serve it up hot.
The new practice of cookery, pastry, baking, and preserving, by Mrs Hudson and Mrs Donat (1804)

Quotation for the Day.

The cabbage surpasses all other vegetables. If, at a banquet, you wish to dine a lot and enjoy your dinner, then eat as much cabbage as you wish, seasoned with vinegar, before dinner, and likewise after dinner eat some half-dozen leaves. It will make you feel as if you had not eaten, and you can drink as much as you like.
Cato (Marcus Porcius) 234-149 BC.


paul kennedy said...

Cato's quote reminds me of childhood. There seemed always to be a large pot of boiled cabbage and we would eat the lot. Never filled you up.

ACravan said...

I recently discovered your remarkable, extraordinarily interesting blog. It's already added a great deal to my knowledge and also to my enjoyment of the sweltering summer down here in Berwyn, Pennsylvania (near Philadelphia). Many thanks. Radishes and cabbages: I love them both. Curtis Roberts