The First Repeat: Cabbage Rolls

Foodie: I have to ask you something.

Beast: What’s that?

Foodie: Did your pee smell funny today?

Beast: (Pause) No.

Foodie: Mine did. It smelled like cabbage rolls! Isn’t that funny?

Beast: You’re disgusting.

This is FATB’s first repeat: I did a post on cabbage rolls back in 2008, but the ones I made on Sunday afternoon deserve their own website. Now remember, the kind I make–and the kind my Aunt Sandy, Uncle Ron and Mom make (although the four of us all have slightly varying recipes)–aren’t the sort of cabbage rolls that you’d find in the Ukraine, for example, where they often use pickled cabbage leaves. They learned how to make cabbage rolls from their mom, of course, and she–a sturdy, formidable woman whose ancestors came from Alsace Lorraine– learned to make them from Vi Moffat, an English lady who lived down the street from them in Strathroy, Ontario. In other words, I’m pretty sure that these cabbage rolls aren’t traditional in the Eastern European sense, but my God are they good! In fact, it might just be my favourite dinner of all time, or at least my favourite autumnal dinner.

Anyway, the Beast and I have had them for dinner for the last two nights and I hope we have them tonight too.


The Beast got home late from work the first night we dined on them, so we didn’t eat until about 9:30pm. As soon as he got home, we filled our plates with a couple cabbage rolls each and a helping of corn (I know that sounds odd, but my mom always serves her cabbage rolls with corn and I’ve become attached to the odd, yet winning, combination), and tried to find something good to watch on the televison.


Foodie: Oh Love, Actually is on! Let’s watch that!

Beast: We both hate that movie though.

Foodie: We do? Oh yeah, we do, don’t we. I forgot.

Beast: Our mutual hate of the movie brought us together many years ago.

Foodie: I wonder if I lied about not liking it just to have something in common with you because this movie looks fucking awesome! Let’s watch it man!

Beast: Fine.

As I teared up on several occasions during the poignant film, the Beast–out of nowhere–suddenly turned the channel.

Foodie: What are you doing? Turn it back!

Beast: But Billy Madison is on! Come on–it’s so much better than Love, Actually.

Foodie: Actually, it’s not. Can you please turn it back?

Beast: Let’s just watch Billy until he goes to commercial.

So we watched Billy Madison for a bit. What was scary is that the Beast knew all the jokes before they came and started laughing ahead of time, in anticipation of said jokes, which was actually way funnier to watch than Love, Actually. Actually, Billy Madison is a really funny movie.

In order to avoid conflict during Supreme Cabbage Roll Dinner #2, we decided together to rent Gone with the Wind to watch with supper. But there was still conflict in picking out the movie: the Beast wanted to watch a Jazz documentary on some guy named Louis Bluey. Never heard of him? EXACTLY. In an attempt to win me over, the Beat pointed out that Woody Allen endorsed the film. I believe Allen’s quote on the DVD case said:

I like Jazz and I like Louis Bluey. So this is the perfect movie for me.

Fair enough, but it’s not the perfect movie for me, especially while dining on award-winning cabbage rolls. Anyway, reason prevailed, and Gone with the Wind it was. But right in the middle of the Civil War action, the Best paused the film.

Beast: Can I talk to you about something without you getting mad?

Foodie: Yes.

Beast: I think next time you make cabbage rolls, you should salt the meat more.

Foodie: I disagree whole-heartedly.

Beast: You do?

Foodie: Absolutely.

Beast: I think this is the first time in this relationship that I’ve thought something needed more salt and you didn’t.

Foodie: Can you press play please? Did you know that the book I’m reading right now–the biography of Louisa May Alcott– has too do with the Civil War a bit too? Did you know that she grew up in Concord, Massachusetts, and people like Emerson and Thoreau were her neighbours? She could see Walden Pond form her bedroom window!

Beast: I did know that. Actually, a relation of Buckminster Fuller, an intellecutal named Margaret Fuller, lived there too. She taught at that school that Alcott’s dad started. What was it called…The Temple School? She was quite instrumental in that transcendentalist stuff.

Foodie: (Putting fork down–briefly–to look at the Beast) How in the hell do you know shit like that?

Beast: I read.

Foodie: Thoreau was very important to me in my youth you know. I remember–

Beast: I know, I know: your Dad bought you a collection of his works for your 15th birthday and you thought to yourself, What a shitty thing to buy a teenager for their birthday, but Walden ended up enlightening you and–

Foodie: I take it you’ve heard that one before.

Beast: You know what gets me? You don’t even know who my favourite New Orleans trombone player is.

Foodie: Who is it?

Beast: I don’t really have one. Maybe Jack Teagarden, but he’s not from New Orleans. But my point is YOU DON’T LISTEN.

Foodie: I think these are the best cabbage rolls I’ve ever made.

Foodie: ****

Beast: ***

7 responses to “The First Repeat: Cabbage Rolls

  1. Another pell-mell journey that ends, too soon, with tears of hilarity. HOW DO YOU DO IT? My Ukrainian grandmother used to make us cabbage rolls whenever we would visit her, but I remember the leafy wrapper being very pale and translucent, unlike the healthful green of yours. Perhaps she only used milk-fed cabbages raised in captivity and uprooted them before they had a chance to chance to be free in the garden to roll about, rub against each other and develop chlorophyll, or whatever it is teen cabbages do. Then again, she might have used only the most inner, most tender leaves in order to please her finicky, ungrateful grandsons. She is no longer around for me to ask her. They were also delicious though. Just not like yours.

    I meant to comment on your last post about your early photographic work, when you were labouring on that series of photos of the asses of statues. You have come a long way, although looking at your photos of knishes and cabbage rolls you have retained your ability to make innocent foodstuffs look too raunchy for even Vice Magazine. Keep it up.

    • Confession time Stephen™: I think the inner, paler leaves are actually more tender than the green ones. In fact, the cabbage rolls at the bottom of the Le Creuset pot (which my grandmother gave to my mother who gave it to me) were paler and superior in both texture and flavour. I didn’t write about this in the post, and I feel as though I’ve failed everybody a bit. At least I have a chance to clear it up here. Plus, you can rest easy knowing that your dear grandmother only fed her grandsons the best part of those teen cabbages.

      I’m glad SOMEBODY noticed the ass photography. It’s like Jeff Koons, but better (I think). Although, I didn’t even notice the lewdness of the knishes and cabbage rolls until now. Thank you. This will make my mom really happy. Really.

  2. The Beast is so well-read…

  3. “the Beast–out of nowhere–suddenly turned the channel”

    “You don’t even know who my favourite New Orleans trombone player is”

    Holy hell I love that guy…….

  4. Went to the cemetery in Concord, MA on October 30 of this year. It seemed appropriately Halloween-y. It was super awe-inspiring to see in one place the tombstones of Alcott, Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne, and even Daniel Chester French… road trip?

    I’ve got 2 cabbages in my crisper, getting more and more sad with each passing day. Thanks for the idea on what to do with them!

  5. Can you tell the Beast that Amy McKinnon is going to be in town the weekend of Dec. 4-5 and we’d love to sit down for a drink with you guys?

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