Paper money. "That hack (officer) will bring swag (contraband) in as long as you got the cabbage."

- american underworld dictionary - 1950

Cabbages are the sworn enemies of the Discordians. Long ago, in the season of Chaos, the Apostle Hung Mung met a Cabbage passing along the road to Timbuktu. The Cabbage said some very rude things about Hung Mung's mother. Hung Mung became very angry at the Cabbage, and said some very rude things right back. From these humble beginnings was the eternal enmity between Discordians and Cabbages born. This is reflected in the POEE Baptismal Rite, in which it is said, "Are Ye Human, and Not a Cabbage Or Something?".

Gender/Planet/Element Associations: Feminine/Moon/Water

Ritual Uses:

Cabbage is often served on the night of the Full Moon, as well as after the completion of magical or spiritual workings.

Uses In Folk Magic:

  • People who feared Friday the 13th at one time placed cabbage leaves on their foreheads to ward off evil spirits.
  • Cabbage can also be eaten to internalize protection.
  • It was believed by the ancient Greeks that eating a head of cabbage everyday would cure insanity and all manner of mental/nervous ailments.
  • Cabbage should be planted the first thing after a couple has been married, if they wish to enjoy luck in matrimony and gardenkeeping.
  • Green cabbage, in particular, is good for money-drawing.


  • Cunningham, Scott. Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1998.
  • A Kitchen Witches' Guide to Vegetables. "Kitchen Witchery". Accessed: 21 December 2001.

The highly diverse genus, brassica includes the vegetable we know as cabbage. Depending on your first cabbage experience, you will either love or hate this vegetable. Unfortunately, cabbage has been much maligned by improper handling and poor cooking. Don't let these culinary crimes put you off this noble and versatile vegetable - better yet, let's find out how to treat cabbage with the respect it deserves.

Apart from the familiar varieties of heading cabbage, there are also dozens of non-heading; leaf, stem and flower based cabbages from around the world, each with its own unique place in divergent cuisines and their methods of preparation.


Cabbages are an extremely popular vegetable in Europe, Africa, through Central Asia and right out to Far East Asia. The regular heading cabbage most of us would be familiar with has its parentage with the wild cabbage that is native to coastal areas of the Mediterranean. This plant would have been gathered for countless millennia, but the first record of its domestication dates to around 2500 BC. This vegetable was thought of very highly by the Romans, and was even believed to counter some of the excess to which that society was prone. According to Cato,

"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...It will make you feel as if you had not eaten, and you can drink as much as you like."

It was most likely the Romans who were responsible for the introduction of wild cabbage to the British Isles.

Sometime later, after centuries of domestication and due to selective selection of forma when planting new crops, cabbages started to form heads. The regular round, white and tightly packed cabbage you see in greengrocers everywhere made its first appearance circa 1100 AD, around the area we know as Germany. Cabbage's Lilliputian cousin, the Brussels sprout was first extensively recorded in 1587, although evidence of this vegetable in Northern Europe pre-dates this by almost 1000 years.


When cooked, cabbages have a lot going on in the chemistry department. The cabbage group of vegetables has been thoroughly investigated by chemists, and indeed perhaps the first detailed study of what chemically occurs to a cooked vegetable was undertaken with cabbages in 1928.

There are a couple of reasons behind early scientific interest. Firstly, cabbages are a stinky vegetable - there is little avoiding this fact. They give off a range of malodiferous substances as they cook. Secondly, and more ominously, the cabbage family includes mustard and horseradish, both of which contain powerful isothiocyanate compounds that were synthesized during World War I to produce the horrific mustard gas.

Among the aromatic compounds released as cabbage is exposed to heat are hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg gas), ammonia, mercaptans and methyl sulfide. The longer cabbage is cooked, the more prodigious is the resultant gaseous output. Eventually, after a prolonged period of cooking, powerful and unpleasant tri-sulfides will be formed. To make matters worse, aluminium cookware reacts poorly with cabbages. The oxides in the metal interact in an unpleasant manner with the sulfurous material in the vegetable.

Much of this can be avoided by cooking cabbage for brief periods of time and in non-aluminium cookware. For instance, the amount of hydrogen sulfide produced by cabbages doubles from the 5th to 7th minute of cooking. If you need any other reasons to avoid long-boiled cabbage, this is it.


European cabbage

Heading cabbage, which includes the regular white, the crinkly savoy and the vivid red cabbages, as well as tiny Brussels sprouts all belong to one diverse species, Brassica oleracea. All parts of these cabbages are edible, including the coarse white stem running up the middle of the vegetable. Any limp outer-leaves need to be removed and depending on the preparation, will either be shredded, for quickly braised dishes and salads, or in the case of stuffed cabbage, the leaves are removed whole. Owing to Brussels sprouts' small size, they are either left whole, or cut into wedges.

Flowering cabbage includes broccoli and cauliflower, as well as their faddish hybrid progeny, the broccoflower. All parts of these varieties are edible; stems, leaves and inflorescence. In the case of cauliflower, the large leaves are encouraged to grow over the vegetable during growth, thus inhibiting the production of chlorophyll that would taint cauliflower's trademark pale colour. These varieties are generally cut or snapped into individual flowering heads, known as florets, before proceeding with a recipe. The exception is some elaborate European and Indian cauliflower preparations, which require the entire vegetable to be cooked whole.

Stem cabbage is mainly represented by one strikingly presented vegetable, the kohlrabi. This cabbage varies in size from a tennis ball, up to a large grapefruit and usually sports a vivid purple exterior; apart form a pale green variety that is sometimes available. It grows in an intriguing manner - the stem abruptly swells to an alarming width, with the leaf containing branches growing upwards from the swollen stem. Generally, kohlrabi is sold minus the leaves, but they are as well edible. Due to the dense, root vegetable-like texture of kohlrabi, it is normally sliced into smaller wedges before cooking.

Leafy cabbage is an extensive group, which includes the original wild cabbage, kale and the black-leafed Italian cavolo nero. These cabbages do not form heads and thus all of the culinary action is to be found in separate leaves. They should be treated in a manner similar to spinach or silver beet, with their slightly coarser texture dictating perhaps a minute or so more cooking time. Make sure to wash these leafy cabbages well before use.

Asian cabbage

I have deliberately kept this section separate, as although these cabbages have many similarities to their Euro cousins, their treatment is sufficiently different to warrant stand-alone status.

Chinese cabbage Brassica pekinensis is also known by its Chinese name - won nga buck, as well as Peking cabbage and Napa cabbage. It is loose-headed, with white to pale green leaves and a distinctive elongated shape. They are quite large, with the average sized football making a small specimen. These cabbages are either sliced into small sections for stir-frying or soups, or more often than not - pickled. This is done in either the Chinese manner, finely shredded and subtly spiced - which some food historians believe to be the precursor to sauerkraut; or in the Korean style, kimchi. This addictive and volatile preparation is highly spiced and includes a goodly amount of fiery red chilli.

Chinese broccoli B. alboglabra is also commonly known by its Chinese name, gai larn. This variety has light green, thick stems and coarse, dark green leaves. It is commonly found in stir-fries and soups, as well as the ubiquitous dish found on Chinese menus simply as "Chinese vegetable". This is lightly steamed gai larn dressed with oyster sauce, ginger and stock.

Bok choy B. chinensis is also sometimes sold as Shanghai cabbage. It possesses wide, succulent and pale stems with uniform mid-green leaves. This cabbage is once again popular in soups as well as in famous Cantonese dishes such as mermaid's tresses and lion's head meatballs. A variation is rosette bok choy B. chinensis var. rosularis, which has deeper green, round leaves and grows in an attractive and compact rose shape.

Choy sum B. chinensis var. parachinensis is also known as flowering cabbage. It has long, pale and tender stems and mid-green leaves. This variety is often sold with compact yellow flowers, hence its common name.

Mustard cabbage B. juncea is known in Chinese as gai choy. This cabbage has coarse and thick stems, somewhat reminiscent of bok choy and dark, frilly foliage. Mustard cabbage has a pungent, slightly bitter flavour that is prized for use in strongly flavoured soups. This is the cabbage used in the powerful condiment - Szechwan pickled cabbage.

You Know You've been Doing Scarborough Faire Too Long When...
Someone mentions cabbage, and the first thing to come to your mind is brawling in the mud, not the vegetable.

Cabbage was a game played on occasional rainy days at Scarborough Faire Rennaissance Festival in Waxahachie, Texas during the 1980s and 90s. I would imagine people still play it, but not in an official capacity. Officially, this game doesn't exist and you didn't hear about it from me. Perhaps if the lawyers for the people who actually ran Scarborough Faire had known this was happening, they'd have tarred and feathered the lot of us. That would have just added a splinter to a woodpile though, cuz on the best of days we gave one another quite a beating, and if you didn't walk away from Cabbage bruised, and perhaps slightly concerned that a bone might be broken, you were doing something wrong. For the record, I wasn't any good at it myself, coming out relatively unscathed because I'm just not a reckless enough individual. I was better at watching, preferably from a safe distance, with a cold brew of something alcoholic in my mug (or non-alcoholic back when I was still a member of the performing company).

The central goal of Cabbage was to have a good time, and although I recall people keeping score, I don't recall the final score amounting to much. Cabbage wasn't so much an event as a happening. It just sorta evolved. First, the environment has to be just right. A good morning rain would have ensured appropriate mud on the potential field. Mud was important because it helped to cushion the blow when people fell on top of one another, which was a usual occurrence during Cabbage. On rain days at Scarborough, they didn't immediately cancel the Faire and tell all the patrons to go home. However there would come a point where it was pretty obvious the illusion that this was a misty spring day in 16th century England had been destroyed, making way to the reality that this was a swampy wet Texas spring, and we're a bunch of people dressed in silly costumes. When that point became pretty obvious, it was time for Cabbage. Maybe.

Come to think of it, Cabbage was a bit more complex than that, but these complexities evolved from natural necessity, not arbitrary game design. An early sign that today might be A Day For Cabbage involved the concept of Rain Costumes. If one was interested in learning whether or not today was A Day For Cabbage, it was important to watch the participants of the King and Queen's royal court. These were performers who had to dress in very elaborate renaissance costumes that were made of things that rain tended to ruin. If a person's costume had to be dry cleaned or cost more than a few hundred dollars to make, and said person was either absent and under shelter, or had gotten others to untie and remove his/her other elaborate restraints, and said person was now running about in their chamise and pantaloons, chances are this was a rain day. In fact, it was practically a requirement that all participants in Cabbage wear their Rain Costumes, whether they be of royal court, the gentry, or a lowly peasant. Fortunately for most peasants, their every day costume was the same as their Rainy day costume.

The design of the game was kept relatively simple. People would move a couple big barrell trash cans into place to represent goal markers. The actual distance between these trash cans depended on how large the chosen field area was, and, well, people's mood at the time I suppose. An attempt was made perhaps to measure out approximately two thirds the size of a football field, but this was measured by the eyes and not by any actual measuring equipment, so the actual size of the playing area varied from one day of Cabbage to the next. Teams would be appointed by some arbitrary system. Something like, "hey! You wanna play on this side? That side is short a couple people why don't you two go over there?" and so forth. I also recall occasional shouts of "We need more people!" when there were already enough. On occasion it would be the Scottsmen versus everyone else. If you were wearing a kilt you'd go on one side, and if you weren't you'd be on the other team. This is not unlike shirts and skins but below the waist. Other times people didn't know who was on who's team, which made gameplay that much more interesting later on. I should also add at this point that women were not excluded from play. It was an entirely optional choice and if a member of the fairer gender wished to risk it, she was more than welcome. However, this didn't happen particularly often, as their inclusion didn't seem to alter the level of brutality much at all.

Once teams were selected, or perhaps a bit before that I can't recall, came the unveiling of The Cabbage. Now, The Cabbage was kept in a secret, undisclosed location, and only a couple few people knew where it was on those days when it wasn't fit to play Cabbage. Where it was kept from the world, I do not know, because I was not among that secret society of Cabbage Keepers. I recall Mayhem MacGregor being one of those special people who knew. There were others, but their names are now shrouded in obscure mystery as opposed to exposed in this vague history I'm laying down here before you now, before senility and alcohol abuse takes away all my recollection of this singularly sensational phenomenon that might have swept the world by now had someone thought to tell people about it before now, but I digress. Where was I? Oh yes.

The unveiling of The Cabbage. It was an important moment. Why? Well, up until this point people had been talking about whether or not today was A Day For Cabbage but no one ever actually believed it, until you actually see the Cabbage brought forth among the populous, there was no certainty that this would be The Day. Once The Cabbage was brought forth to meet the assemblage, it meant that truly today was A Day For Cabbage, and not just some silly day with hearsay talk about it. The Cabbage itself was not a football. It was not a soccer ball. It was not a ball. Indeed, it was not truly a cabbage, as in the vegetable variety. It was in fact the head of a long-since-discarded mannequin which had seen better days. It was barely recognizeable as a humanoid head. At one time someone had used some sort of coloring on it as I recall, perhaps to make it look like the head of a bloody pirate or something. However, that experiment had failed in some Cabbage Day before, because five minutes of roughhousing in the mud would ruin any decapitated head's makeup.

Once the Cabbage had been Unveiled, and the assemblage had been appointed to two (or on rare occasion more) teams, each team would take a side, the Keeper of the Cabbage would stand in between the two teams, and he would call out something to the effect of, "ready, set, GO!" ...Or perhaps it was something else. It was something like that. I don't think it really mattered what the Keeper of the Cabbage actually said anyway, because the teams weren't listening for a signal, they were waiting for the Cabbage to fall from the Keeper's outstretched hand and to the ground. Once it had touched the ground it was fair game. Both sides' job was to get their hands on The Cabbage and somehow get it through the other team's defenses and to the other side of the field, where those large upturned trash barrells had been placed for goal markers. If a team was successful, they scored a point, or made a goal, or whatever they called it. It depended on whom you asked as to whether it was a point, a goal, or something else. Then if that momentous point/goal/whatever was accomplished, the Keeper would be given the Cabbage once again, and the above description would be repeated.

I do not recall any specifics in regards to HOW one was to get the Cabbage from one side of the field to another. If one had to run all over the rest of the Faire site to accomplish this goal, then that's what would be done. However, usually the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, so it rarely came to that. More often it came to a dogpile of twenty or so grown adults, writhing and flailing about in the mud, trying to get their hands on that slippery Cabbage. Although punching and kicking one another was frowned upon, I don't recall it technically being against the rules. It was just bad form and such violent participants were often forcibly removed from the game, if the majority of those playing disliked his tactics. For the most part it amounted to a lot of pushing and shoving and tripping and falling and throwing and dodging and shouting and gnashing of teeth and occasional wailing in pain. Swearing was more than acceptable. In fact I believe it was practically mandatory. Abuse of the King's english was tolerated, seeing as by now most of the paying guests had already gone home by now anyway.

This would go on for as long as there were people fit to play, or until the Keeper had to leave at which point he'd take The Cabbage with him. I recall no listing or descriptions of periods or quarters or halves. There were no buzzer sounds or clocks running out. I do recall the shouting of "time out" periodically, on average about once every ten minutes or so. Despite this lack of rules to break, anyone playing could call a time out and then turn to the Keeper of the Cabbage for an impartial judicial ruling on someone's actions or whether or not a point was actually a point. I also recall repeated shouts of "what's the score?" followed by several different interpretations of what the score was and who was winning. Again, the Keeper's word was almost always final, and I remember no one ever accusing him of being unfair.

People could join or leave the game as it was in process, depending on schedules and availability. There could be as few as three or as many as fifteen men to a team at any time. Attempts were made during play to keep the sides even, with occasional individuals defecting from one side to another. A simple "time out" would allow the changing of any personel, and gameplay would quickly resume. So the question of who won the game never seemed to be much of a certainty. By the time the score was finalized, usually there were so few left to tell the tale. The following weekend some might ask about the score if they remembered, and someone would fill them in on any details they recalled.

It wasn't about who won.

During the eighties I used to do a bit of relief truck driving for a local small family run agricultural haulage company.

Their bread and butter work was running farm vegetable produce from a packing plant in Norfolk to various wholesale markets around the country.

Harvested produce was run from the fields to the plant in the morning: washed, packed and loaded the same day.

A typical run would be to leave the plant in the afternoon, absolutely bursting at the seams, disgorge vegetables from one end of the country to other, grab a few hours sleep in the cab and find something to bring home.

The truck was usually a late 70s Volvo F7 tractor unit pulling a forty foot semi-trailer.The modest 230hp, was, incredibly by today's standards deemed sufficient to power the outfit at a rated gross weight of 36 tonnes. It had over 750,000kms on the clock and fully laden and took a couple miles of to get up to its terminal velocity of 60mph.

First stops were the old Spitalfield and Convent Garden markets. They've been rebuilt now but the old ones were crawling with huge lorries from all over Europe, tip-toeing their way through the wobbly maze of timber stalls originally intended for use by horse and cart. You had to find and bribe a forklift to get unloaded. Next stop Bristol, big and modern market, likewise, and finally, Swansea, then off to park up for what was left of the night, ready to backload home.

On one occasion, I crawled the lorry empty, up the Welsh mountains to park up on the doorstep of the Llanethli steel works ready to load in the morning.

The loading shed was of sci-fi movie proportions. My fifty foot rig was like a mouse on a kitchen floor.

The crane rode around dangling from overhead rails with a man in a little cab underneath.

A foreman sort of bloke joined me on the trailer to guide the two ten ton rolls of thin steel that were destined to be made into treacle tins by Tate and Lyle in London.

He spotted a sack containing a few left over cabbages.

In his strong musical Welsh accent he said "Is that cabbages, drive?" (That's what they call you.) I said he could help himself.

He got one out, standing in the middle of trailer as if were a stage, the crane stopped, awaiting instruction. He held the cabbage aloft on the tips of his fingers and called out "you have to work here twenty years before you get a cabbage".

Cab"bage (?), n. [OE. cabage, fr. F. cabus headed (of cabbages), chou cobus headed cabbage, cabbage head; cf. It. capuccio a little head, cappuccio cowl, hood, cabbage, fr. capo head, L. caput, or fr. It. cappa cape. See Chiff, Cape.] Bot.


An esculent vegetable of many varieties, derived from the wild Brassica oleracea of Europe. The common cabbage has a compact head of leaves. The cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, etc., are sometimes classed as cabbages.


The terminal bud of certain palm trees, used, like, cabbage, for food. See Cabbage tree, below.


The cabbage palmetto. See below.

Cabbage aphis Zool., a green plant-louse (Aphis brassicae) which lives upon the leaves of the cabbage. -- Cabbage Beetle Zool., a small, striped flea-beetle (Phyllotreta vittata) which lives, in the larval state, on the roots, and when adult, on the leaves, of cabbage and other cruciferous plants. -- Cabbage butterfly Zool., a white butterfly (Pieris rapae of both Europe and America, and the Allied P. oleracea, a native American species) which, in the larval state, devours the leaves of the cabbage and the turnip. See Cabbage worm, below. -- Cabbage Fly Zool., a small two-winged fly (Anthomyia brassicae), which feeds, in the larval or maggot state, on the roots of the cabbage, often doing much damage to the crop. -- Cabbage head, the compact head formed by the leaves of a cabbage; -- contemptuously or humorously, and colloquially, a very stupid and silly person; a numskull. -- Cabbage palmetto, a species of palm tree (Sabal Palmetto) found along the coast from North Carolina to Florida. -- Cabbage rose Bot., a species of rose (Rosa centifolia) having large and heavy blossoms. -- Cabbage tree, Cabbage palm, a name given to palms having a terminal bud called a cabbage, as the Sabal Palmetto of the United States, and the Euterpe oleracea and Oreodoxa oleracea of the West Indies. -- Cabbage worm Zool., the larva of several species of moths and butterfies, which attacks cabbages. The most common is usully the larva of a white butterfly. See Cabbage Butterfly, above. The cabbage cutworms, which eat off the stalks or young plants during the night, are the larvae of several species of moths, of the genus Agrotis. See Cutworm. -- Sea cabbage.Bot. (a) Sea kale (b). The original Plant (Brassica oleracea), from which the cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, etc., have been derived by cultivation. -- Thousand-headed cabbage. See Brussels sprouts.


© Webster 1913.

Cab"bage, v. i.

To form a head like that the cabbage; as, to make lettuce cabbage.



© Webster 1913.

Cab"bage, v. i. [imp. & p.p Cabbaged (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Cabbaging ().] [F.cabasser, fr. OF. cabas theft; cf. F. cabas basket, and OF. cabuser to cheat.]

To purloin or embezzle, as the pieces of cloth remaining after cutting out a garment; to pilfer.

Your tailor . . . cabbages whole yards of cloth. Arbuthnot.


© Webster 1913.

Cab"bage, n.

Cloth or clippings cabbaged or purloined by one who cuts out garments.


© Webster 1913.

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