The other day, as I ventured outside into the far corners of our backyard, I couldn’t hide my surprise at the sight of a few budding cabbage heads. I was astonished because never in a million years would I have imagined that we would allow anyone to plant this vegetable in our garden.
I grew up surrounded by vegetable gardens, as mentioned in my article about our mountaintops and their perfectly lined crops that are picturesque, and cabbage was one of the most popular crops to grow on those slopes for the cool temperature of our area is conducive to their growth.
Yet, though we did plant vegetables in our at home garden, we always refrained from planting cabbage in our own backyard. The plantation next door was enough to convince us not to harvest that vegetable at home.
While we always enjoyed looking at them from afar, after all consecutive rows of planted cabbage are a beautiful sighting as shown in the above picture, we are not particularly fond of the perfume this vegetable releases as is grows bigger and the harvest season gets closer.
One needs not see a budding cabbage to be aware of its presence. Indeed, a cabbage plantation is quite jouda, as we would say here. You cannot hide it from anyone. And when you harvest this vegetable, it’s another story. The entire neighborhood is informed for, breeze or not, the smell always finds its way to your home, making your nostrils tingle.
“Hmmm, cabbage, you smell it?” was quite a popular sentence at my house when the neighbors were harvesting the fruits of their hard labor. The one who uttered those words always did so while making a face that said it all. It was obvious that they were not pleased by the smell that permeated every corner of the house.
This thus explains why I was so shocked to realize that we now grow our own cabbage at my house. I must, however, admit that I understand why we set our preconceived ideas aside and planted them.
While this article might make it seem like this particular crop repulses me, it is an important ingredient in our Haitian cuisine. Growing it in one’s own backyard actually has its advantages for cabbage is a must for quite a good number of preparations.
Indeed, so many of our Haitian recipes call for this vegetable. After the piman bouk, it is one of the most important ingredients of our famous Haitian pikliz. We also use it to add flavor and texture to our touffe legume, and the choucroute often served at formal dinners alongside salad is also cabbage based. These are just a few of the many uses we find in our kitchens for this vegetable.
You now understand why I could never hold cabbage’s not so exquisite perfume against it. Not only is a cabbage plantation a great tableau to contemplate but the harvest also contributes to the successful preparation of plates that delight one’s palate.