ORNAMENTAL CABBAGES in window-boxes give winter colour. Marina our Russian friend, who has planted them, tells us that you can eat them too. She says she hates growing vegetables but loves flowers, so this is a way of combining the two.
In Russia, she tells us, cabbage is a folk cure for a cold. You don't eat it; you take a leaf, smear it with honey, and put it on your shoulder overnight. The honey, she reminds us, is a concentrated form of energy while cabbage has medicinal properties.
Crambi repititaThese properties have been well known since ancient times. The Latin phrase crambi repitita, which you might translate as 'warmed up cabbage', meant 'tell us the old, old story'. Pliny recommended it as a cure for dim eyes or even drunkeness.
Culpepper agrees and recommends it for a whole host of ailments but he warns that the wild cabbage is 'as windy meat as can be eaten, unless you eat bag-pipes or bellows.'
'The juice thereof drunk in wine,' he tells us, 'helpeth those that are bitten by an adder.'