Thursday, 12 October 2006


Whether the French are any good at food nowadays is arguable but it is certainly true that they are still much better at naming it than the English or—even more—the Americans. I mentioned last month that pieds et paquets is only mutton stew with tripe but there’s no doubt which sounds more appetising, if cryptic.
The other day I came across an American recipe for Collard Green Soup, the ingredients of which included 1½ lb. of dried great northern beans, a gallon of fresh water and two packets of frozen collard greens; all that sounds extremely depressing. Collard greens are a staple of southern US cuisine and soul food: they are like kale or turnip greens; collard derives from the Saxon colewarts, “cabbage plants”.
But the recipe also gave the dish the name Verzada, which sounds and is something much more interesting. The Guardian’s cookery correspondent picked up the following from Ada Boni’s Italian Regional Cooking: it is a dish from Lombardy, simple and cheap. I tried it last week, and it's very nice. Here, at third hand, is the recipe:

1 large white cabbage
100g belly pork (or four bacon rashers)
1 onion
2 tbsp butter
2½ tbsp white wine vinegar (This is the secret, and is essential)
8 sausages (preferably Toulouse style)
Cut away the outer leaves of the cabbage and shred the rest coarsely. Slice the belly pork into bits about the width of a pencil and slice the onion.
Heat the butter in a large saucepan, add the pork and fry until the fat begins to run. Add the onion and fry until soft but not brown.
Add the cabbage, stir to coat it in the pork fat and cook over a moderate heat until it begins to brown. Sprinkle with the vinegar and season with salt. Arrange the sausages on top, then cover and simmer over a gentle heat for 40 minutes to an hour. Serve at once.

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