Nicholas used to say ‘My yuck dat’ when faced with something that he didn’t want to eat. No matter if he’d eaten it the previous week, or even that he’d asked for it – with that statement he would push the food away, set his jaw and not a mouthful would pass his lips. Funny how the baby we nicknamed George Bush because the only thing he didn’t eat was broccoli became so difficult when we brought him back from Hong Kong. Actually it was many things but funny wasn’t one of them. We tried everything you were supposed to do to encourage him to eat, and many things that don’t appear in any baby books. His annoyance at being brought to a cold country from everything he knew at the age of 19 months warranted a long (two year) protest of not eating much at all. Just as well he was a chubby wee thing before the hunger strike really, and thank heavens for teddy shaped vitamin tablets.
With the arrival of Tom and George, the variety of vegetables eaten in the house diminished further. I grew heartily sick of carrots which for a long time were the only veggie everyone ate. Things improved as you boys grew up, but we still didn’t have a wide range of vegetables served obviously at the table. By ‘served obviously’ I mean that I hid vegetables in soups – the ingredients of green soup changed pretty much every time I made it, and I’m not ashamed to say that I flat out lied about what was in it so that you’d all eat it. Colcannon was another way of getting cabbage or kale inside you.
As you grew up and our Sunday meals became so important, Dad and I started cooking a selection of four vegetables of which you had to eat two. We had reached a workable compromise. One day, I cooked cabbage in a different way because of complaints about having colcannon too often. This dish was named by George, I think, Nice Cabbage, a name I feel slightly conflicted about. As I’m sure I have declared on more than one occasion, if I’m not cooking Nice Cabbage, does that mean I’m cooking Nasty Cabbage?
Nice Cabbage – Ingredients
- One cabbage, thinly shredded (I prefer Savoy cabbage but it works with ordinary white cabbage)
- 4 rashers smoked streaky bacon, chopped into thin batons
- 4 spring onions, finely chopped, or one small onion, finely chopped
- Teaspoon of butter
- Salt and pepper
- 4 tablespoons single cream
Melt the butter very gently in a large frying pan (you need a lid). Add the spring onions/onions and cook slowly until soft. Add the bacon and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the cabbage and mix well. Add four tablespoons of water. Raise the heat till the water boils, cover and turn the heat down to its lowest level. Stir or shake often and add more water if it seems to be sticking. The cabbage will be cooked in about 10 minutes. Add cream and heat through.
Season with pepper and salt if you feel it needs it. Serve straight away.
One variation – if you like caraway seeds, add a couple of teaspoons with the bacon.
I will leave you with this thought, seen on a board outside a restaurant in the East Village this afternoon.