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The reticent cabbage cutter

Cooking for yourself can be addictive. It’s easy after a while, doesn’t force you to think every day about finding food, makes you crave simple food if you’ve eaten out too much, but most of all it makes you do crazy things at times.

Yesterday I was feeling mighty adventurous and in the mood for trying something different. So I headed to the grocery store and came home with some cabbage.

What induced me to buy cabbage I do not know. Maybe it was some shred of memory of being advised to eat green leafy things. I don’t believe that I could identify cabbage the day before yesterday if my life depended on it. I’ve been trained to eat, not to remember and identify leaf names. In fact, on my way back I read the label on the packet and it said “Wong Bok” which nearly made me decide to get my head examined. A quick Google, however, assured me that the now ominous oval in my hand was indeed cabbage.

I describe the vegetable as ominous because I was now at a stage familiar to nervous bungee jumpers who, having made a painful climb to the top of some bridge or ravine, now ponder the wisdom of letting mindless gravity take charge of their lives. Here I was, someone who barely knows how to cook an omelette and who forgets how many cups of water are needed for one cup of rice – handling a vegetable that in everything but taste was as alien to me as multilateral diplomacy is to George W. Bush.

Like your foolish but egoistic bungee jumper, I decided to take the plunge. Let me warn fellow non-cooks – all the health benefits you may accrue from cooking and eating cabbage cannot make up for the rise in blood pressure that must occur when untrained folk try and get this herb to behave in the kitchen.

A vague intuition told me that I should probably cut this thing before trying to cook it and so I dutifully picked up a knife. If you want to analyze how to cut a raw food item, I doubt you’ll find anything as unyielding as cabbage. Apples are easy, tomatoes are messy but simple, cucumbers can be dangerous but obvious but cabbage… cabbage is a total mystery. I stood there for a few minutes, knife in hand, my mind in knots about the right approach. I was so bashful you’d be forgiven for thinking that I was planning to ask this vegetable out to dinner. Come to think of it, I was. From a certain point of view.

I managed to cook it somehow; though words cannot express how glad I am that no authorities on cooking were on hand to observe me and laugh hysterically. As for the the result – suffice to say I ate what I cooked and lived to tell the tale.