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Stuffed cabbage--country of origin

I always thought stuffed cabbage was Italian? Mario Batali has a great recipe for it that I make often. If anyone can recommend any Italian restaurants that have stuffed cabbage on the menu I'd love to try it out...

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  1. My grandmother is rolling over in her grave.
    Not Italian.
    Eastern European.

    18 Replies
    1. re: perk

      Tell granny to relax, food borders often extend far beyond our families' understanding of them.

      Mario frequently prepares dishes from those borderland regions between Italian-German (Austrian)-Slavic cultures -- stews and other things that seem far more Central European than Italian.

      1. re: gido

        That wasn't my point. There are certainly many interpretations and varieties of dishes.
        They may all be interesting and tasty. But it doesn't change the history of the dish.
        The history of a dish is just that--its history, its origin.
        I'm sure there's a tv chef somewhere in Hungary who is making a lasagne with Polish sausage and cabbage. That doesn't mean that lasagne a dish that originated in Hungary.

        1. re: perk

          So, you think stuffed cabbage "originated" in Hungary?

          Hmmm. stuffed cabbage resembles Balkan dishes where cabbage leaves are wrapped around ground meats, which look a lot like similar dishes which use grape leaves instead of cabbage. Such dishes stretch to Turkey, and to Armenia... .And keep going.

          Think a little broader than your family to understand that dishes aren't limited to what your grandma made. As I said, the northeast of Italy butts up against other cultures, but anything that's traditionally prepared there is Italian in the broadest sense. Cabbage is grown in the region, after all.

          If you limit your understanding of food culture, than Italian cuisine shouldn't include tomatoes -- they're a relatively recent addition in historical terms. And Eastern European dishes with potatoes aren't really Eastern European. They're South American.

          Food culture isn't monolithic.

          1. re: gido

            "Food culture isn't monolithic." Exactly!

            By the way, in addition to stuffed grapeleaves, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, onions, zucchini and zucchini flowers, the Greeks stuff cabbage.

            But anyone who has watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding knows that the Greeks invented everything ;) (Including stuffed cabbage)

            1. re: gido

              NO, it was all stolen from my Armenian Grandmother she was really old. LOL
              We like stuffing grape leaves with lamb and bulgar wheat instead of rice. I think it comes out meatier, and most ppl don't know it has a filler in it

            2. re: perk

              A substantial part of today's northern Italy was part of Yugoslavia as recently as the 1940s. Look at a map. Quite a bit of "Northern Italian" cooking is synonymous with "Northern Croatian" cooking and it's not because one ripped the other off but rather because they were one and the same until around 1948. Heck, the notion of a unitary "Italy" is a fairly modern development.

              In Bosnia, stuffed cabbage is small rolls that resemble the dish as it's sometimes made in Turkey and Greece. Where Turks might use ground beef, Bosnians spike it with basturma -- smoked beef -- which is a halal analog to the smoked pork Poles and Ukrainians flavor theirs with. In between lies Romania, where the tangy, tomato/paprika base for a gravy is more in line with Balkan practice but the size of the rolls and the filling might more closely resemble the Polish and Ukrainian versions.

              Even this is deceptively generalized. Distinct ethnic groupings like Ukrainians and Poles, or Yugoslavs and Bulgarians are blurrier than that. In the rural areas, the spoken languages are much more fluid and the transition from one to the other is gradual. Much of today's Ukraine itself was in Poland 70 years ago and in Austira-Hungary before that. You get in a car in the morning and drive from Ukraine's cultural heart around L'viv (formerly Lwow, formerly Lemberg) to Hungary, Slovakia or Romania in time for lunch.

              Erase those northern/southern/eastern/western distinctions. Europe is complicated and fluid.

              1. re: hatless

                "A substantial part of today's northern Italy was part of Yugoslavia as recently as the 1940s."

                Actually, the other way around.

                But, at times in the 19th century, much of it all was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

                1. re: hatless

                  Tell me about it, hatless.

                  My family (on both sides) is Carpatho-Rusyn from modern-day Eastern Slovakia. Ukrainians say we're Ukrainian, Slovaks say we're Slovaks.

                  We know we're something a bit different. Central Europe is incredibly complicated and unbelievably fluid,

                  But stuffed cabbage (halupky) is ours I tell you -- all ours. Along with pirohy (Poles mistakenly call it pierogy), and halushky (Austrians mistakenly call it spaetzle and those Italians mistakenly call it gnocchi.

                  1. re: gido

                    No, no, no! They're not halushky, they're kopytka! :)


                    1. re: hatless

                      I think the "halushky" correspond to Polish "golabki" (pronounced "gowompki"). The kopytka (little hooves in translation) are gnocchi, or "nockerl" to German-speakers.

                    2. re: gido

                      nope, wrong. polish stuffed cabbage are golumpki. our dumpling type dishes are pirohy.

                      1. re: gido

                        ours were ground beef with long grain rice, rolled in green cabbage and baked in a thin tomato sauce, love the golumpki!!

                        1. re: gido

                          Hello from from a fellow Rusyn in PA!! Christos Voskrese!

                          1. re: shellster

                            you're two day early, but voistino voskerese at midnight tomorrow!

                            1. re: justanotherpenguin

                              Voieschena voskress! Holy Trinity, McAdoo. Making Paska?

                        2. re: hatless

                          Slovenian ones are holubky, Russian I think are galushki, I have one Polish recipe that calls them goluptsi, and SOMEWHERE I have a recipe and name for the Hungarian ones, but I can't find it. Look, if cabbage is the ONE green vegetable you can eat year 'round, sooner or later you're going to do whatever you can think of to make it interesting, and ground or chopped meat and maybe some rice or barley rolled up in there is one of the more obvious variations. Especially since it's so freakin' good. I have elsewhere documented my inclusion of holubky into my traditional New Year's Choucroute Garni, and the squeals of pleasure it brought forth from all who tasted it (including me).

                          Look, damn few of our ancestors' families have lived in just one place over the last several thousand years, and hardly any of them occupied an area that was called what it's called now. Eastern Europe has been especially fluid, what with one invasion after another, and given the inherent limitations on what grows well and what keeps well they've all been using essentially the same foodstuffs. In other words, the only reasonable answer to "did the ––– s invent stuffed cabbage?" is "Yes and no."

                          1. re: Will Owen

                            russian: golubets - singular; golubtsy - plural.

                            l think that this is a great is a great discussion. living in the melting pot of the us, being of russian/ukrainian heritage, married to a lebanese christian, growing up in east la - i am convinced that stuffed cabbage, just like stuffed dough, probably has many origins. and i love them all! (but, my ukrainian grandmother - born in the 1880's - would have killed anyone who said that stuffed cabbage wasn't ukrainian!)

                      2. re: gido

                        GOD, I THINK.
                        HA, HA,

                    3. There are very old versions of stuffed Brassicas (and of bitter gourd, bell pepppers, you name it) in East and SE Asia. Independent invention may have produced stuffed cabbage around the globe from early times.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        Sam Fujisaka...rrrrigghht! I agree about that, brother.

                        That's the way I feel about a great many things in the food world.

                        1. Hopefully the gido-perk-o war is now in a truce.

                          I think the point of both Hungary and Balkan is a geographic depiction of a broader "eastern europe." I am not sure people would say stuffed cabbage is asian, african, south american or middle eastern in geneology, but eastern europe is generally considered the genesis point of stuffed cabbage. If mario, gordan, jean-claude or anyone else wants to derivate for a new twist that's great, but when the dots connect back in time i think you will find eastern europe on most of the dots.

                          1. Would you like a few French recipes for stuffed cabbage? Chou vert farci? Chou vert farci en ballotine? Gateau au chou vert gets fancy, adding a pastry crust because we French always like that kinda thing...

                            1. Just as a side note, stuffed cabbage is actually a popular dish in Japan as well. They call it "roll cabbage." Fresh cabbage is a big deal in Japan; they grow it very sweet and crunchy over there, and it's perfect for stuffing.

                              1. It's commonly found across Eurasia. Not specifically Italian.

                                Americans should learn to love cabbage as well as other cultures do.

                                1. cabbage made its way to western europe from asia about 600 b.c. via the celts. i'm sure be it now or be it then, wherever it was or is grown it is being stuffed with one thing or another.

                                  12 Replies
                                  1. re: byrd

                                    The Egyptian pharaohs ate cabbage, too. So that actually pre-dates the Celts.


                                    I'll be darned....cabbage is native to the Mediterranean. Looks like cabbage is Greek,
                                    after all- I'm kidding...not trying to start a debate.

                                    Here are some other cabbage facts:

                                    1. re: phoenikia

                                      My family origins are from the Ukrainian regions of Europe- Poland/Hungry... we had lots of stuffed cabbage, cabbage soup and other cabbage based dishes... My grandmothers house always had cabbage of some kind cooking on/in the stove.

                                      1. re: MeffaBabe

                                        My grandmother's Polish version of stuffed cabbage has a sweet sauce, with raisins. My mother's Hungarian version is more savory, with green pepper and paprika flavorings.

                                        1. re: JugglerDave

                                          My Polish grandmother made cabbage stuffed with pork and rice, braised in bacon fat and baked with keilbasa.

                                          1. re: emilief

                                            That's exactly the way my Polish grandmother made them as well.

                                            1. re: emilief

                                              My Polish mother makes them with ground pork, beef and veal and short grained rice. She steams them in water for hours, and the house reeks. If I ever take some to work for lunch, I'm not popular at ALL, I stink up the whole kitchen. My mom likes to warm hers up in a little tomato juice.

                                            2. re: JugglerDave

                                              The Polish version I grew up with was savory with rice and ground meat and cooked with tomato juice. It seems the type with raisins are usually Russian or Jewish/Polish. At least that seems to be the case in the area of California that I'm in right now which isn't big on Eastern European food.

                                              I'll settle this. Stuffed cabbage originated in Poland. My grandmother invented it ... in 1894. I claim the cabbage roll in the name of my family.

                                              1. re: rworange

                                                Well spoken, and well claimed, rwcabbage. We're all awaiting the change of your avatar from the dangling citrus to a full-headed Savoy.

                                                Is there room in the hall of acknowledgements for my Scandanavian grandma? She grew 40 pound cabbages during the summers in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Her cabbage rolls were 18 inches long.

                                                1. re: FoodFuser

                                                  My German mother made it with a thin tomato sauce and lots of caraway. My Hungarian wife makes it with a tomato sauce and sauerkraut in the broth. In Russia it is typically done with no tomato. Pick a place, it stuff vegetables or vegetable leaves and braises them. Just like dumplings, stuffed pasta, empanadas, etc.

                                                2. re: rworange

                                                  my great grandma invented them, also from poland, and also with minced meat and rice and cooked in a slightly sweetened tomato sauce. They were called Holishkas

                                                3. re: JugglerDave

                                                  We always had the sweet-and-sour version with raisins, most notably from the wondrous kitchen of great-aunt Pearl. Her family hailed from the much-fought over region of Galicia, which is now part of Poland -- I think -- but back then was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

                                                  She also made sweet-and-sour salmon with raisins as well as pickled, jellied calves' feet (p'cha), which was not a big favorite among the younger generation.

                                                  Mrs. W's mother makes a savory version (Mrs. W's father is Polish), the traditional galumpkis (pronounced ga-wump-keys, but I just call them ga-lump-keys).

                                                  Regardless of the origin or recipe, it's great food for a cold day!

                                              2. re: phoenikia


                                                Not quite... it looks like Cabbage originated in Asia Minor then spread to the Mediterranean & Europe. Of course this is predictably a Western centric historic because it doesn't include the story of how it got to China.

                                                Sam is right.... stuffing cabbage & various types of leaves probably goes back a really, really, really long time. It is also a very widespread tradition. My paternal grandmother 65+ years ago was stuffing cabbage leaves with braised Cabeza or Nopales with Chorizo in a a sleepy 500 person town in the middle of nowhere in Highlands Jalisco.

                                                One of my friends from Guadalajara who is of Lebanese origin... his mother would make Cabbage rolls stuffed with everything from Ground Lamb & Rice.... to Falafel to deconstructed Chiles en Nogada.... as her go to entertaining thing.

                                            3. I find it interesting that nearly every culture figures out ways to do things with foods that end up being far more similar than they are different (the infinite varieties of noodles and breads comes to mind). Before reading through this thread I would have emphatically asserted that stuffed cabbage is Eastern Euro, and I'm kind of floored to find out that it's more ubiquitous than I would have ever thought. I love Chowhound!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: ballulah

                                                Form follows function.

                                                You have a leaf, you have a filling -- wrap one around the other and eat. I also find it interesting to see how many variations there are for stuffed bread or dough things - dumplings, pierogies, empanadas, pasties, tamales - seems like every place in the world, they've found a way to wrap dough around a filling and cook it.

                                              2. I don't know about stuffed cabbage, but if you want to go really far back, hardy wild cabbage originally hails from the Mediterranean soil, supposedly. (!)
                                                And then thousands of years ago, it became a staple vegetable in Eastern Europe.
                                                Then the Chinese started pickling it - but that's another story.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: grocerytrekker

                                                  Cabbage probably did not become common in Eastern Europe thousands of years ago--maybe 1,000+. The name in most Slavic languages is "kapusta". This word is of Latin origin coming from Latin "caput" meaning head (the source of English "cup" also)--because cabbages are like heads. Of course, not all of Eastern Europe is Slavic speaking, but this little linguistic fact shows a mediterranean origin to this vegetable--recently enough when the Slavic languages were just beginning to diverge from each other.

                                                2. The genus Brassica covers many crops, including cabbages. They originated in Central Europe, Central Asia, and central India, and have evolved species in China and Korea for over 2000 years. Different forms of stuffed cabbage are very old and very widespread.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                    Oh wow...this thread brings back memories. My stepmom used to make cabbage rolls from my grandmother's recipe - my grandmother being British and married to a Pole. I guess my grandfather must have wanted them and told her the basic idea and she made them. Basically it was a rice and ground beef mixture encased in cabbage with a tomato sauce over the top.
                                                    I hated them. I called them "garbage rolls."

                                                    1. re: mariannas

                                                      well, it's also true that no matter the provenance, when stuffed cabbage is carelessly or poorly done...eh. Not so good. And I think RW aka cabbagehead is right about the raisins being a Russian/Jewish addition. (My Russian cookbook has a version stuffed with mushrooms and rice...and then there's the version with sauerkraut (just in case the fresh cabbage isn't enough)) And I also think I MUST find out more about that "braised in bacon fat and baked with kielbasa" version.....I'm thinkin' the Sibs and I might be able to have a halupki/gawumpki ----stuffed cabbage! - cook-off just to try some different recipes....

                                                      1. re: Alice Letseat

                                                        Well, I was the odd one out in the family. Everyone else loved them, but I personally found the cabbage/ground beef combo was revolting.

                                                        1. re: mariannas

                                                          My grandmother made 2 versions- one with meat and one without meat just using rice. The family concensus was everyone much prefered the meatless version. I should note- it was only meatless in the fact no ground beef/pork or keilbasa was used- The meat came into play when onions, salt pork and celery were all sauted in the BACON FAT- this is what you would mix with the rice and roll into the cabbage. It was all put in a huge dutch oven type pot and covered with water and several cans of whole tomatoes... We ate them with a cream sauce that was a cardiologists delight- heavy cream, sour cream all mixed with 1 stick of butter in which you sauted the onions with... Makes me want to go home and make up a batch...

                                                  2. LisaStitch, every country that I can think of has some version of stuffed leaves whether they are lettuce, cabbage, grape, banana, etc. so it is impossible to assign a country of origin to stuffed leaves. What I do know is that the rice-ground beef-tomato sauced version of stuffed cabbage leaves is not originally an Eastern European product. Discussing whether someone's grandmother's version is authentically German or Polish or Russian is futile. These combinations are a result of cultural intermixing which does not detract from their deliciousness nor their familial ties and sentimental memories. You just gotta love Grandma's stuffed cabbage and it matters not one whit whether Grandma was from Central Europe, Southern Asia or Northern California.

                                                    1. Hey all,

                                                      Wow... I have been eating what my family calls "Cabbage Rolls" since I was a little kid. My grandmother made them, my mother makes them still, and the last few years my brother and I have been making them for our families. They are AMAZING! Really unusual dish. My wife thought they sounded disgusting when I told her what they were, but after eating them just once, she now loves them too! Our family recipe is sour kraut based and has absolutely no tomato products in it at all. Just ground beef, sausage, rice, cabbage, and kraut (for the most part). My family is German, so everyone in my family has been under the impression that this is a German meal... but clearly not. At least, not EXCLUSIVELY German anyway. We always eat ours with mashed potatoes.

                                                      Neat to find other "Cabbage Roll" or "Stuffed Cabbage" lovers out there. I have never met anyone in person that has had the pleasure of enjoying this delicious dish like my family has for decades... if not longer.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: nieten7642

                                                        The basis of your rolls sounds great.How about sharing the recipe?

                                                      2. Food history is fascinating, especially due to the fluidity of Europe. I'm Polish and golabki are synonomous with a traditional Polish meal. Ours never had raisins though, so that was interesting to read. My version is more savory with a recent addition of green peppers. I'm going to experiment with a sweet and sour type sauce the next time I make them.


                                                        1. my two cents for the topic.

                                                          my parents are from croatia, part of former yugoslavia. we make stuffed cabage rolls at home. the name that we give the dish, "sarma" is turkish in origin; it means to wrap or to roll, or something like that.
                                                          therefore, i suggest that the dish is certainly not eastern european in origin, but rather that the ottomans brought it to us. the ottomans made their way around, and that is why you see the dish through the balkans and up through to poland and russia, and it eventually spread even further.

                                                          where did the ottomans get it from? who knows? certainly their cuisine was influenced by the persians, but more i can't say with conviction. only that the dish is most certainly found in the balkans, and that the name for it, and therefore most likely the origin, is turkish. (we in former yugoslavia have a lot of food that is influenced from them, as the one other poster noted).

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: nzach

                                                            Since cabbage was native to Greece, and the Greek recipe for Cabbage Rolls with Avgolemono (egg and lemon sauce) could have pre-dated these post- Christopher Columbus Eastern European tomato-sauced cabbage rolls recipes, I would have to say, cabbage rolls look like a Greek invention to me.

                                                            Quite possible the Turks transported this Greek invention to Croatia and beyond, though.

                                                            PS jfood, sarma is another word for stuffed cabbage.

                                                            1. re: phoenikia

                                                              Me thinks the cross-fertilization has been going on for a while longer than that. The Greeks conquered the Balkans prior to the Turks during the Byzantine Empire. The Ottomans drove the Greeks out of there (they're still believe Macedonia rightfully belongs to them). Then came the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the downfall of the Ottomans, followed by the Russian Empire. I'm Russo-Carpathyn and Hungarian and Russion and my forebears were subject to all of these invasions, and they all made some version of stuffed cabbage. My mom perfected the Campbells Soup version. LOL.

                                                            2. re: nzach

                                                              jfood agrees that your ancestors from croatia, yugoslavia and other countries in that region can trace the cabbage roll, but then you assume it came from the Turks/Ottomans. Do not see that rationale for the connection other than your "sarma" reference and likewise do not understand what "sarma" has to do with stuffed cabbage unless there is an eastern european word that is similar.

                                                              Any help with that is appreciated.

                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                The Turkish influence is the use of fresh instead of pickled cabbage, as well as "sarma" coming from a Turkish word for wrapping.

                                                                I lived for a year in Belgrade, and there "sarma" was stuffed leaves (like cabbage or grape leaves) specifically, whereas other stuffed vegetables were "dolma".

                                                                But I had my mind blown by the suggestion that the Turkish influence went all the way in the other direction to the Persian Gulf on my last trip to Kuwait.

                                                                There I was served a delicious vegetarian dish of cabbage leaves stuffed with bulgur wheat and sauced with a tomato-tamarind and baharat sauce (almost the consistency of a glaze).

                                                                I was told that this is a traditional Kuwaiti dish, and it was absolutely delicious. I haven't tracked it down in any cookbooks, although I don't have any good Kuwaiti cookbooks, but I did find a similar sounding Syrian dish called mishee malfoof.

                                                              2. re: nzach

                                                                Turkish culinary historians cite the cabbage role as coming from "Russia." I spent a fair amount of time there a few years ago researching the ancient spice routes, and dined several times with academic culinarians based in Istanbul. The origin of cabbage rolls came up at a lunch that served them as one of the courses.

                                                              3. throe in more votes for romania, latvia, poland, and whatever international line crossed through many eastern european countries late 1800's.

                                                                Both jfood ancestors and mrs jfoods ancestor made slightly different versions, but basically an onion, tomato based sauce with meat and rice stuffing. difference was jfoods grandma made hers with an acid of sorts which gave it a sweet/saour flavor.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                  I bet jfood's grandma, like my mother, made hers with "sour salt" ( a mysterious crystalline substance that I came to learn many years later was citric acid, the same thing that flavors all those sour candies) and sugar, for the sweet-sour taste. ( I make the same thing with lemon juice instead, because I haven't seen sour salt on the shelves in years.) And no green peppers, ever. And always cook it one day and eat it the next. Magical stuff.

                                                                  1. re: MommaJ

                                                                    Yes it was sour salt and jfood remembers that little jar in the kitchen. She also made a sweet and sour meat that used it. Now the big question, any idea where jfood can buy sour salt? like you jfood has been looking for years as well.

                                                                    1. re: MommaJ

                                                                      I don't know where you live, but I JUST saw it in the Kosher Product section of the Safeway on Market St. here in S.F.

                                                                  2. It also seems to be a common Yoshoku or westernized Japanese dish along with curry rice.

                                                                      1. re: mariekeac

                                                                        suffice it to say that these are of southern european origin. At one point or other all of these peoples have been forced to leave thier countries. We have so many versions due to the fact that all of them wanted to preserve their heritage. Just enjoy. :)

                                                                      2. funny thread
                                                                        I'll go with the Everybody Does It camp, since both my Southern Italian and Slovak family rolled up cabbage with fillings . . . BUT unlike the Italians, holupki/kapusta was about the only thing my Slovak relatives made that was worth claiming. Sad but true.
                                                                        (in addition to excellent xmas cookies with walnuts)

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: pitu

                                                                          Oh, you should sometime take a little culinary stroll through "Please to the Table," a grand book on Russian food!

                                                                          1. re: Alice Letseat

                                                                            The Slovaks are of Middle Europe, not Russia . . .
                                                                            it was the Austro-Hungarian Empire my people left behind. No blini, no salmon, no delicious flavored vodkas. Just poppyseeds, cabbages, and warm milk if they were lucky.
                                                                            : )

                                                                        2. Italy is probably the last place that would say it engendered stuffed cabbage. I don't think there is any one country that can lay claim to giving birth to the stuffed cabbage - but Eastern Europe would definitely be the region. Polish people have their golabki, romanians their sarmale, and so on... Each individual nation will claim them for their own - and of course each version is just a little different. But Italy it is not.

                                                                          1. My mother who is from the Dominican Republic makes them with seasoned ground beef and rice covered with tomato sauce. Her sister does too.

                                                                            1. My grandmother was born in Romania...she always made it. I agree. Hungary has a version as well.

                                                                              1. being of both Italian and Eastern European descent I can emphatically say stuffed cabbage is from the Eastern Euro side (hey spaghetti was not originally Italian either. Marco Polo brought it back from China!)

                                                                                1. C'mon, everyone knows authentic Lithuanian Gołąbki is made from Campbell's tomato soup and Uncle Ben's rice with some meat, onion, spices and of course, cabbage.

                                                                                  At least that's the way my Lit mother used to do it. Then again, she never told us the Lit name isn't Gołąbki, it's Balandėliai.

                                                                                  Wife is a Serb, so just had Sarma for Orthodox Xmas couple weeks ago.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                                    My Irish mom made these for my Lituanian dad, we used to call them Golumpkis, so I think it was propably spelled Golabki. I remember cabbage, rice, ground meat and maybe a tomato based sauce.

                                                                                    1. re: hummingbird

                                                                                      Golumpki/Gołąbki is the Polish word for it. It is easier (and more fun) to say than the proper Lit name. Besides, we Lits were all confused about our identity anyway. Mom raised us as Italians, even though she was Lit and Dad was German/Brit.

                                                                                      Really, I knew all the Italian bad words by the time I was 12.

                                                                                    2. Maybe not the origin of stuffed cabbage but the idea of using leaves wrapped around food ---

                                                                                      Picture Uhg and Gugh, roasting meat on sticks over the new fangled fire everyone is so hot about.
                                                                                      Ugh tries to tear some meat off the stick but drops it immediately into the dirt.
                                                                                      "Uhg !! Hot!!"
                                                                                      Gugh sees this and looks around, spying some handy leaves growing pretty close. Grabs a hand full and using the leaves to handle the hot meat takes a bite of meat and leaves together.
                                                                                      "Gugh!!! Good"
                                                                                      And so went the birth of stuffed leaves.

                                                                                      1. It's Hungarian. Toltott Kaposzta. My Hungarian step mother makes it on Christmas Eve. Northern Italians/Austrians etc make it too (but not as well!) because those areas were part of AHE. It's a wonderful dish, and it certainly didn't sit around waiting for Mr. Batali to discover it.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: cassis

                                                                                          Cassis, I'm with you on this one (Igen!) We are Jewish Hungarian and stuffed cabbage reflects Hungarian cooking. George Lang has a great cookbook, something like The Cuisine of Hungary, which documents the origin of many Hungarian foods. The big difference between Hungarian stuffed cabbage and Polish or Russian is the degree of sweetness (Hungarian has no place for sugar!).

                                                                                          1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                                            Thanks, Diane!
                                                                                            What makes it really good and very Hungarian, is that before you stuff the leaves, you poach them in a pickle-y tasting broth to soften them: water, vinegar, salt and looots of paprika, just enough sugar to round out the taste, bay leaf and lots of dill. Jewish or not Jewish, every Hungarian mother is just waiting to make you this dish!

                                                                                        2. Just wanted to sat that this thread makes me miss my little polish grandma. We called her Grandma 'B' , and she always made the best comfort food. Her cabbage rolls were some of the best. I continue to make them for my family.

                                                                                          This thread brought back alot of tasty food memories :)

                                                                                          1. "STOP THE INSANITY!" - Susan Powter

                                                                                            I know Wikipedia isn't every one's idea of 'the aurthority' on any given subject. But for what it's worth...


                                                                                            Probably suffice to say 'in general' its origin is 'European'.

                                                                                            1. There is no sugar in Polish golabki! I don't know where you got that info, but there is no sugar or raisins! Raisins are a big part of Jewish cooking with savory dishes, but never Polish. In most Polish households stuffed cabbage is made with half and half beef or veal and pork, cooked rice and sauteed onions. It is either baked with tomato sauce that's later served with them, or like in my mom's house, she baked them with some boulion, and seperately made mushroom and sour cream sauce to serve with them.
                                                                                              There is also a Xmas eve version of golabki ,which is basically cooked rice with sauteed mushrooms and onions, but no meat of course.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: polish_girl

                                                                                                I have been looking for a recipe for stuffed cabbage that my Mom remembers eating when she was a child. The cabbage was stuffed with rice, grated onion and butter with a tomato soup/juice type sauce Whenever she tried to make it the rolls kind of exploded. Has anyone heard of something like this?

                                                                                                1. re: polish_girl

                                                                                                  My 2 favorite stuffed cabbage recipes are a jewish version with beef, rice, and raisins and a mexican version with pork and sausage and rice and many kinds of chiles.

                                                                                                  But my family are mutts and we have a little bit of all kinds of (chow)hounds in us.

                                                                                                2. I grew upwith both the Russian Hulupsi and the Polish Golumpki; both had neither raisins or sugar. Since the cabbage appears european, the tomato South American, rice Asian, the pig too(?), maybe we finally have and example of intelligent design.
                                                                                                  Now spaghetti, the noodle from China and tomato from South America.......
                                                                                                  Is pizza really Phonecian?
                                                                                                  What an interesting subject.
                                                                                                  Which came first, bread or beer?
                                                                                                  Yikes, what am I doing!

                                                                                                  1. I just read most of this looking for a referrence to stuffed cabbage made with ham, kraut, and zapruska.........or a roux. When Mum made them she did them both ways, a tomato based sauce and the other. I've looked on line for a recipe or any info about the ham/kraut version, but have found nothing. Is anyone familiar with this?
                                                                                                    Oh, my grandparents hailed from the northeastern part of Slovakie, near the Tatras.


                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: taracat

                                                                                                      The sauerkraut versions I have tried have been Hungarian. I was curious so I googled the ingredients, and it looks like sauerkraut is also fairly common in Romanian, Serbian and Croatian recipes. Ham (but not sauerkraut) has been part of some Polish cabbage rolls I've tried.

                                                                                                      Here are a couple ham and sauerkraut versions: http://www.bigoven.com/163455_Hungari...

                                                                                                      1. re: phoenikia

                                                                                                        Thanks phoenikia,
                                                                                                        The Bigoven.com was most interesting, but I find it strange that nothing has surfaced with the ham, sauerkraut, and roux combination. No matter, I love them that way and will continue to enjoy that version.

                                                                                                    2. This thread has reminded me of the time that myself and two girlfriends got together to make "cabbage rolls". It sounded so simple at the time...

                                                                                                      It became a battle - one of us was of Hungarian extraction, the other Ukrainian, and I have "German" roots ("German" in quotes because great-grandma came from somewhere in that area to Canada in the early 1900's... she spoke high german, low german, and Russian, and had tales of the Cossacks coming to her village when her mother was a child... no one has quite figured out where that village was, and where it fit on the maps of those days).

                                                                                                      Anyway, all we could agree on was that we needed cabbage. After that there was debate about ground beef vs. ground pork vs. bacon, kraut or not kraut, amount of rice to use (lots - Ukraining, just a little - "German", none at all - Hungarian), paprika or not, garlic or not, onion or not, size of cabbage rolls, cooking medium, tomatoes or no tomatoes, etc.

                                                                                                      In the end, we made it Canadian - I believe we used everything, cabbage rolls size varied as to taste, some kraut was used, we took the middle ground when it came to rice, added garlic and tomatoes, and we topped it off with a mixture of tomato juice, beer, and Clamato (the distinctly Canadian touch). They were absolutely delicious!

                                                                                                      So I guess cabbage rolls are Canadian, eh?

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                                                                                                      1. re: kali_MM

                                                                                                        to Kali_MM: I think it's possible your grandma came from the same area my ancestors all came from. I wrote a blog post about making sour cabbage for cabbage rolls, then wondered like all of you here, where in the world did cabbage rolls originate?

                                                                                                        My ancestors were Germans who migrated to Bukovina (now in the Ukraine) in the 18th century, and then to Canada in the late 19th. But we called cabbage rolls “holishkes” for some reason, the Yiddish name for cabbage rolls. Czernowitz, Bukovina, where my great grandparents immigrated from, was at that time a melting pot of mostly eastern European ethnicities.

                                                                                                        We thankfully have preserved some of our traditional recipes. My aunt in Saskatchewan makes large batches of sour cabbage in the fall from cabbage freshly cut from her massive garden on the farm.

                                                                                                        I very much enjoy the conversation here! It's making me hungry for cabbage rolls!

                                                                                                      2. Yeah, eastern european or Russian. My uncle's Polish mother made huge numbers of fabulous glumpki (gwumpki? they did have tomato sauce, and I think it was pork and rice) and canned them for extended snacking pleasure (this reminds me in a way of the potsticker parties that the Chinese have). Her part of Poland was in Russia when she was a girl so there may be a Russian influence.

                                                                                                        1. My Polish ancestors and wifes called them Golumpki's. It's a real treat. Beef and rice in a real tomato sauce.

                                                                                                          Quick Story- A few years ago we're having a family reunion and everyone contributing something, seafood night, italian nightm, polish night, etc. My wife is asked what she wants to do and she quickly decides to make the stuffed cabbage for Polish night. We're over at the relatives and she starts cooking. She boils some water for rice and took out her box of spanish rice a roni like her mother did. A real faux paus amongst some strongly ethic types. She gets thrown out of the kitchen and there are still hard feeling about it!

                                                                                                          1. Cabbage would be of middle eastern origin in BC time, since the Greeks adopted many Persian flavors and items during the "empire times". That would have been adopted by romans during the Roman empire and when the Greeks went up into the Slavic areas spreading eastern orthodoxy would have carried it up the Balkans, (along with the language)!

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                                                                                                            1. re: PaulaT

                                                                                                              You are so right. I was born and raised in south Louisiana...I grew up on my mother's cabbage rolls...we were a French/Acadian household. Mom stuffed the cabbage leaves with ground beef, sausage, rice, onions, celery, bell pepper...covered it all with a tomato "gravy"...

                                                                                                            2. Stuffed cabbage originated everywhere members of the cabbage family with large enough leaves were grown! I'll bet stoneage cooks were stuffing big mustard leaves.with whatever they had around to use as stuffing. When cabbage was introduced to the "New World", even indigenous peoples began stuffing those big leaves.. Asians stuff the leaves of their cabbages too.. long before they ever ran into Middle European cuisine. Granted, those Middle Europeans have raised the stuffing of cole-family leaves to a fine art!

                                                                                                              1. Without reading other posts, I'm going to say that there isn't one country of origin--it's all over Central and Eastern Europe (Germany, Poland, etc...) and apparently Italy--probably more countries that I don't know about. If you think about it, stuffing a cabbage (or any) leaf is a pretty simple concept so it should be sort of widespread. Other foods without a single origin (I think) are pies/turnovers/empanadas or sandwiches or boiled eggs or salads or meatballs/patties/meatloaf/albondigas/whatever and more.

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                                                                                                                1. re: Wawsanham

                                                                                                                  I agree. I suspect folk have been stuffing cabbages for as long as they've been growing cabbages.

                                                                                                                2. Old post resurrected, great. My parents/grandparents were from Europe and Jewish, but dish was made sweet and sour with citric acid and sugar and called 'procas'. Anyone hear of that name ?

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                                                                                                                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                                                    No, but I love this old thread and I have started to make my stuffed cabbage with a sweet and sour sauce.

                                                                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                      Wow, ironic this thread was recently revived again. Just made these for New Years Eve! Tradition in my family. Not sure of the connection to New Years, we've just always done it. Just a really weird coincidence though to start getting email alerts about this thread and I literally have a pot of these down in my fridge!

                                                                                                                      Maybe if I get a chance tomorrow I'll post my family recipe for anyone who is interested. Happy New Year everyone!

                                                                                                                      1. re: nieten7642

                                                                                                                        The connection to New Year's is the cabbage which represents money and good fortune. If there is ground pork in the stuffing, then that ups the luck factor as pigs are also seen as a symbol of good luck and prosperity.


                                                                                                                        "How did the pig become associated with the idea of good luck? In Europe hundreds of years ago, wild boars were caught in the forests and killed on the first day of the year. Also, a pig uses its snout to dig in the ground in a forward direction. Maybe people liked the idea of moving forward as the new year began, especially since pigs are also associated with plumpness and getting plenty to eat. However the custom arose, Austrians, Swedes, and Germans frequently choose pork or ham for their New Year's meal. They brought this tradition with them when they settled in different regions of the United States. New Englanders often combine their pork with sauerkraut to guarantee luck and prosperity for the coming year. Germans and Swedes may pick cabbage as a lucky side dish, too'

                                                                                                                  2. We called them Chalushkas - Jewish Lithuanian background. Always made with ground beef and rice, with a sweet and sour sauce (brown sugar and lemon, usually). Yum!

                                                                                                                    1. I have not seen my moms recipe, but I use lamb or ground beef onions rice roll top with tomatoe soup and after out of oven top with cheddar people go nuts over these.

                                                                                                                      1. Well, cabbage is native to the Mediterranean, and was introduced to Northern/Central/Eastern Europe, where it did become a sort of native vegetable. So, since it originated in the Mediterranean, stuffed cabbage may be of Italian (perhaps really Roman) origin. However, they do a lot with this recipe in tons of other countries.

                                                                                                                        1. I am looking for a German cabbage roll my boyfriends mother (deceased) used to make with salted pork, rice, sauerkraut, cabbage....he called "hol-up-ture". Not sure how it's spelled and I can't seem to find anything online. Has anyone heard of this word? Looking for a recipe.

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                                                                                                                          1. re: charanneg


                                                                                                                            Halubcy - Belarus
                                                                                                                            Golubtsy (little pigeons) - Russia
                                                                                                                            Gołąbki (little pigeons) - Poland
                                                                                                                            Holubtsi - Ukraine
                                                                                                                            Holubky - Czech Republic and Slovakia

                                                                                                                            Some of these cabbage roll names are awfully close to the pronunciation you've written, especially if you hear the names spoken. Check out wikipedia here:

                                                                                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                              Yes, her "holupture" would seem to be quite similar to the Halubcy or Holubtsi words.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Wawsanham

                                                                                                                                Holupture is what one experiences upon biting into the perfect cabbage roll.

                                                                                                                              2. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                Thank you for all the responses. I will look up these recipes and see which one comes closest to his description.

                                                                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                  My mother, who would be 99 if she were still with us, was of Russian origin. She called them Holupky, because that's what her mother called them. My Polish-American friends call them "Golumpky" or "Gowumpky". My mother also referred to pierogi as "peer-OH-hee", with a trip of the tongue on the "r".

                                                                                                                                  I am continually fascinated with the similarities between culinary cultures. Foods may be spiced differently, or contained different ingredients, but many have some sort of stuffed leaf, some sort of stuffed dough, and some sort of noodle and dumpling.