Our 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).
I 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.