Back when I was a kid, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother 'up on the hill'--which is how we described where she lived. I had 4 Pugh cousins and 2 Perkins cousins who lived nearer her. The Pugh's (children of my uncle Lee and aunt Juanette) lived across the red-dog road from Mammaw Jones. Bradley and Mejol Perkins lived in a house half-way down the hill.
I lived about 5 miles away.
Mejol was my youngest cousin and she's five years older than me. All the others (Duane, Joel, Marlin and Gayle along with Mejol's brother, Bradley) were even older. I was the baby of the brood and alternatively spoiled rotten and harassed by them--except for Mejol. She was my line of defense from the boys.
Whenever my grandmother fried cabbage on her wood cooking stove (and she fried it a lot: cabbage was a food group on my mother's side of the family...the Bradley's seldom ate it) whichever cousins were there would fight over the core. Cabbage core was one of the treats of my childhood. Usually we'd go to great lengths to divide it up.
It is crisp and sweet and better with salt with a little tang of something earthy.
I thought about it because I fried cabbage (not on a wood cooking stove, by the way) earlier this week, and I carefully saved the core.
As I've been writing this, I've been eating it, with garlic salt, because I can.
You know how lots of foods from the past don't live up to your memory when you eat them in today?
Let me tell you this: cabbage core does!
While I've been writing and eating (cabbage core with white wine--that's not from my childhood!) I've been tasting my grandmother's kitchen, up on the hill, so long ago.
(A week or two ago, I fixed myself a turkey sandwich on white bread with mayo, iceberg lettuce and bread and butter pickles. It's a sandwich that the women of one of the Black churches in Anawalt, WV, when I was a boy, would sell. We didn't socialize with Black folks back then, but we bought their food....I always remembered those as the best sandwiches I ate growing up. The one I made myself almost lived up to the memory. I'll try again after Thanksgiving since I think the key is that the turkey come from a bird, not the Deli.)
But cabbage core....Lordy, Lordy, it was like being with my cousins again! Back at Mammaw's house, with the smell of frying cabbage in the air.
I've realized between this and the cabbage rolls Bern made today, that cabbage is one of my favorite vegetables. An slaw...I love slaw. And sour kraut, how good is that?
I'd probably forget to put cabbage on the list for my final meal...but I hope not.
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- night prayer
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