Lately I red an article in the New York Times magazine about kale and was more than surprised about the way they praised it – original it´s a very hearty dish my Grandma from Hamburg used to cook during the cold season, even though she prepared it in a completely different way.
Kale, a winter dish in Germany
Kale (Grünkohl in German) isn`t a dish which would be served in a fancy restaurant in Germany, it´s what you get in the traditional „Gasthaus“ in town or at your Grandma´s – but only in winter, Kale needs frost to develop it’s special taste before it gets harvested. And since Pinkel and Kohl (how my Grandma from Hamburg called it) is a traditional recipe from the 14th century, it wasn´t made for slimming diet reasons, it was meant to feed hard-working men instead of models like today. For this reason my Grandma would put lots of sausage and meat in and cook it for hours with lard in the biggest pan in the house, often she used the washing trough and the whole house would smell for days. Usually this distinct smell was a good indicator for a „cabbage tour“.
A „cabbage tour“ needs a hand-pulled wagon or big sledge, a barrel beer, a family with friends and takes place on a weekend. It ends up with a „Pinkel and Kohl“ feast, followed by the obligatory „Korn“ (schnaps) for aiding one’s digestion after the meal. In my childhood memories I can see myself in the middle of my cousins on long winter walks: the little children would be allowed to get a rest in the handwagon (Bollerwagen in German) every now and then. The more beer the adults would drink, the more room there was for the tired kids. Grandma used to excuse herself to prepare the meal for the hungry group and when we came back home, the table was set and the tummies got filled with this delicious winter dish. I only found out during this research that other families would end up in a traditional restaurant for their kale meals, something I never did – think it would have offended my Grandma