People Messhall Pickled Cabbage


My wife's from Zhejiang province, and so is this can of pickled cabbage that she bought yesterday. I like the label a lot. It's not quite Engrish: of course, we would say "people's mess hall", but the Chinese characters actually denote an extremely basic canteen-like eatery. A mess hall, a canteen, maybe a refectory; very latter-day Maoist. It's a correct translation.

I endorse the pickled cabbage of the Chun'an Qiandaohu Nongxing Food Co., Ltd.. It is by far good enough to be served not only in mess halls.

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Is this suan cai?

This type of suan cai (sour cabbage) is made from a plant called xue cai (snow cabbage) or xue li hong (snow in red).

Could this be considered a congener of Korean kimchi? The photo of a suan cai soup on the suan chi Wikipedia page seems a tad reminiscent of what is called kimchi jjigae, although I presume the jjigae to be quite a bit more spicy.

By Bob Carlson (not verified) on 09 Jul 2011 #permalink

Itt reminds me that in northern Iran they have pickled garlic, a rather acquired taste.

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 09 Jul 2011 #permalink

Very old joke from "Wizard of Id"

Sir Rodney: "People are calling my soldiers "pigs"! What are you going to do about it?"

King: "Close the doors to the messhall when the troops are eating."

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 09 Jul 2011 #permalink

Bob, this stuff is like kimchi only you use a plant with a mild mustardy taste and omit both chili and garlic.

Of course, Koreans have been putting chili in their kimchi only since chilis were brought to the Old World from the Americas. When I mentioned this to one brother-in-law, he became irate and insisted that Koreans have always had red pepper in their kimchi. According to what I read in a work titled Asia in the Making of Europe, following their discovery by Columbus, capsicums spread like wildfire through the Old World. Therefore, I suppose it is possible that they had reached Korea by 1500.

By Bob Carlson (not verified) on 11 Jul 2011 #permalink

Imagine back when the Chinese ate mainly millet and the Italians hadn't even heard of a tomato...

Indeed, no tomato sauce in Italy seems just as hard to imagine as no red pepper in Korea or Thailand. Does no potatoes in Ireland or Sweden come anywhere close?

By Bob Carlson (not verified) on 12 Jul 2011 #permalink

Yes, what currently goes for traditional Swedish cuisine is heavily potato-based. Midsummer's Eve: salted herring, boiled potatoes with dill, and potato-based schnapps. Then drunken fornication with your sister-in-law behind a bush.

This type of suan cai (sour cabbage) is called xue cai (snow cabbage) or xue li hong (snow in red).

Iranian pickled garlic is delicious. I ate some earlier today.

Although chili peppers come from the Americas, we should not forget that various other kinds of "pepper" are native to the Old World, so while chilis certainly changed the culinary picture, its not as if all food prior to contact with the Americas was bland. An example is "Szechuan pepper" (è±æ¤ - hua jiao) which isn't as piquant as chili pepper but has a fascinating numbing quality.

I had Junior's left-over salad at a Mexican place the other day and there was more black pepper than oil in the dressing. Not bland, but not good either unfortunately.