Cabbages Without Kings

I’ve grown to love the cabbage but it wasn’t easy.

The Archaeologist, contrarian that he was, eschewed the traditional vegetables favoured by children in favour of Brussel sprouts which have universally turned small mouths into sealed capsules. Me, I looked on these gangrenous conkers with utter horror.

Cabbage, though, was the worst of a bad bunch. That dark green seaweedle mush that was slapped on my school dinner plate with all the appeal of a dead otter awaiting dissection was awful, the pits but even the crispy home grown version prepared by mum left me ready to gag.

Still we grow up and understand how our lives must change: we turn up at work without being nagged out of bed and with our armpits prepped not to kill; we pick up wet towels,understanding if we don’t we are unlikely to be able to walk with our thighs touching; and we eat greens. These are the very foundations of civilised society, up there with support for human rights and an appreciation of custard creams. I may have been a reluctant convert but I am onside nowadays.

Mind you, I did eschew a cabbage diet recommended to me a while back. Frankly London struggles enough with the quality of its atmosphere without me adding to the problem. 

All of which is a silly, if rather obvious segue to a poem I wrote about Pissaro and his love affair with the ‘umble cabbage


If you listen to the fashionistas of the modern culinary arts,

When they describe perfect roasts or sumptuous lemon tarts,

You’ll hear their words of praise for all those fruits and meat

And how to meld their flavours, comingling savoury with sweet.

And even though they often play an important supporting role,

The humble vegetable is still more courtesan than prole.

The muscular potato or statuesque carrot

Are stables of the table, more often praised than not.

But down amongst the also rans, the forgotten men of food

Whose highest praise is usually ‘Eat up, they’ll do you good’

Besides that distorted vege-beast, the emblem of our drab age

Reviled at school, the pauper’s feast, there rests the simple cabbage.

Let us look beyond this unfairly labelled legume

And restore it to its rightful place where it once more may bloom

Like a cleaned, restored Old Master, a refurbished classic car

As good as oil of castor, the five star brassica. 

Some may moan and cry for help

And groan out loud if offered kelp.

While others quail, and kick and shout

And turn quite pale, at the thought of sprouts.

And then there’s those, who duck and cower

And turn up their nose at the cauliflower.

And this same team will not risk the mockery

Of being seen enjoying broccoli.

But there are men, free men prepared to stand

And defend, till death, these fruits of our land.

Monet, Renoir, the bearded Pissarro

They didn’t paint the pea or the marrow.

No, for them, there was no finer joy

Than to fix, on canvas, the sweet green savoy.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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15 Responses to Cabbages Without Kings

  1. Love cabbage, especially with liver, bacon and onions.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. and whether pigs have wings (sorry had to go there)


    Liked by 1 person

  3. trifflepudling says:

    Like the poem, food for thought, haha. I can’t cope with brassicas and now eat mainly nursery veg: peas, carrots, potatoes, parsnip, that sort of thing (not turnip).
    Some cabbage varieties have a lovely waxy sheen or bloom. Maybe that’s what attracted those artists.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. arlingwoman says:

    I’m okay with cabbage, though it’s better raw than cooked. And I really like the look of some of them. Napa cabbages are beautiful and so are this little round ones. Ah well, not all food is beautiful…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. George says:

    This reminds me of Uncle Monty in Withnail and I: “I have always found the carrot far more beautiful than the rose”, except without the sexual connotation.

    Liked by 1 person

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