Zeus was in a quandary. The supreme and most powerful of Ancient Greek Deities, Awesome and Horrible, and a prolific philanderer, he was not a great intellectual. Sadly, he was not a great prophet either, so between coming up with confusing prophecies and being unable to interpret them, he would often break out in a sweat. Actually, thinking was such an immensely strenuous activity for the Main Chief of the Greek Pantheon, that poor Zeus would be sweating bullets.
He did look tremendously impressive, though, so it’s no surprise that even his copious sweat, falling into fertile Mediterranean earth, sprang cabbage – the health food of the ancients (https://www.funtrivia.com/askft/Question67131.html). This is only one legend of the humble vegetable’s origin; there are quite a few other versions, but regardless of the legends, the real thinkers did consider it very healthy. In fact, they have postulated that this is what life is for:
These guys might have disagreed on their understanding of life, but the did agree on the benefits of cabbage; eating it, they claimed, would ensure excellent health and longevity. Those of you, Beautiful People, who are sensitive to scatological references, might want to skip the next video that had been aired on BBC as part of the Horrible Histories:
If you did watch it, however, you would have noticed piles of cabbage behind Diogenes’ barrel. Yes, he ate nothing but raw cabbage. Granted, he was a weirdo, albeit a brilliant one. He would walk the streets holding a lamp in broad daylight, and when asked why he needed light during the day, he would reply, “I am looking for a human,” When Alexander the Great visited him in his residence (the barrel, that is), the mighty king was so impressed by Diogenes’ philosophy that he asked if there was anything he could do for the great thinker. “There is, – grumbled the dirty homeless vagrant, – move over, man, you are blocking the sun.” To everyone’s surprise, Alexander politely moved over and said to his entourage, “If I were not Alexander, I would want to be Diogenes.”
That is not to say that Diogenes did not have his opponents – everybody did, in those times. One of them, Aristippus, wrote that cabbage “dulled the senses and cut life short” (ibid.) Yet Aristippus died at 40, while Diogenes lived to be 90, so who won that argument?
The great Roman stoic Cato, learning from the Greeks, also extolled cabbage as “the secret to long life “(ibid.) He has improved on the recipe: contrary to Diogenes, the first raw foodie among ancient philosophers, who simply munched on raw cabbage leaves, Cato dressed shredded cabbage with vinegar. Spreading its wings over large territories, the Roman Empire also introduced what later became Europe to its popular foods, among which, undoubtedly, was Cato’s invention – the predecessor of modern coleslaw.
The Dutch, who called it koolsla which simply meant “cabbage salad,” from the Latin colis – cabbage – followed the Roman recipe, dressing it with vinegar. In the interpretation of illustrious British explorer Henry Hudson, who was hired by the Dutch East India Company, it became “cold” slaw, meaning raw, as opposed to cooked cabbage commonly served in England. The river, discovered by Mr Hudson in the “Indies,” was named after him, leading to, among other interesting places, a small island, home of Lenape People.
The ubiquitous companion to barbeques, American coleslaw, has not appeared until the invention of mayonnaise in 18th century. Drowned in mayo, poor cabbage obviously lost some of its health benefits, but fortunately, clever veggie enthusiasts remembered yet another Roman favorite, “the flowering crest of cabbage” – broccoli. More specifically, they solved the dilemma of what to do with broccoli stems by inventing broccoslaw – a combination of julienned or grated broccoli stems with traditional American coleslaw dressing. I went a step further in healthy food direction and replaced heavy mayo with Vegenaise. I do not peel broccoli stems (I also do not have a massage parlor for kale – I believe in marinating to make it soft); why waste all this fiber?
- Stems of 1 head of broccoli, julienned or roughly grated (makes about 1 cup)
- 1/4 cup Vegenaise (or any mayonnaise of your choice)
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of Agave (honey or maple syrup could be substituted)
- 1 teaspoon of fresh dill, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Mix all ingredients well.
- Garnish with fresh dill.
- Serve chilled.
About the guest author:
Dolly Aizenman is the brainchild behind Kool Kosher Kitchen (Which her blog and her book are named after).
This charismatic Russian blogger is fond of cooking and writing.
She has a BA in Art and Music Education, MA in English, MS in Education and Ed.D. in Educational Leadership.