Cabbage Flowers

stalksOur thoroughly amusing find at the farmers’ market this week: a bouquet of cabbage flowers.

On the sign, it was simply marked “choux(the French word for cabbage), but a quick Internet search revealed a couple other potential names in English: flowering kale and ornamental cabbage. I’m still a bit confused about these guys, for the name, and also for their form; usually, plants in the cabbage family have short stems, but these ones are at least a foot long!

The bouquet of five oversized flowers was too original to resist: thick purple and green stalks (reminiscent of giant asparagus sprigs), topped with purple cabbage heads and a row of sturdy green leaves.

In French, chouchou is a term that can be both endearing or slightly pejorative. In English, we often refer to a little child or our sweetheart as “pumpkin.” In France, this dear person is often called a cabbage! In elementary school, however, you won’t want to be called the class chouchou. I just started reading the well-known children’s book, Le Petit Nicolas (yes, I know I’m a bit old, but it’s a part of French culture and really funny!). It’s about a schoolboy and his band of little friends. Agnan is the first in the class and made fun of for being the chouchou de la maîtresse (the teacher’s pet).

cabbageflowersI just got back from a few days in Alsace, a region known for its cultivation of cabbage and the traditional dish, choucroute or sauerkraut– shredded and fermented cabbage. Most of the cabbage had already been harvested, but I was lucky to see a bunch of tiny blue-green heads bobbing up and down in one last field.

Back in Paris this weekend, it was only appropriate to buy some cabbage flowers to bring home and put in a vase.

One thought on “Cabbage Flowers

  1. Some French phrases with “CHOU(X)”

    * Faire chou blanc = to obtain a nil result, to draw a blank

    “chou blanc” might come from a twist of “coup blanc”
    “coup” is pronounced “choup” in the Berry dialect

    * Faire ses choux gras = to make profit of

    * Aller planter ses choux = to retire to the countryside

    * B?te comme chou = very stupd, silly

    * Etre, finir dans les choux = to fail in an undertaking, a venture
    to be up the spout

    * Tonner sur les choux = to make more noise, fear than hurt

    * Feuille de choux = little worth newspaper

    * Bout de Chou = litttle child

    * Mon chou, ma choute, mon petit chou, mon chouchou = darling, dear, honey,
    my teacher’s pet as explained above by Seb’s bit old “chouette choute”

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