I like to make some of the traditional Polish foods at Christmas, the ones my mom used to make for the family – because it reminds me of Christmases past, growing up, and of my family. There is one particular food which is totally a time machine for me. It’s fried up left-over cabbage rolls.
Mom used to make a huge roaster of the things, way more than our family could possibly consume in a meal. For days after the impromptu meal of choice would be a couple cabbage rolls extracted from the roaster and fried up in a pan. I did this yesterday (with a couple slices of bacon), and yes I’m going to fry up a couple tonight too.
Why fry them? Why not zap them up? Well, first of all there is no love in a nuker. None. We don’t even own one. Oh but it’s so quick and convenient you say. Bah! That’s what people who use gas grills instead of charcoal bbqs tell me too. Next you’ll be trying to convince me a pressure cooker is a good idea. Nonsense, that’s what I say. When you fry up your left-over cabbage rolls, you aren’t just reheating them. You’re adding some caramelization to the cabbage. You’re reinvigorating them. The left-over cabbage roll is not just a re-heat job, oh no, no, no. I’m firmly convinced that day 2 and 3 they’re even better than when served on Christmas.
As the comforting cabbage smell overtakes the kitchen, I’m sucked into the space-time continuum, drawn back through the decades to our house on Sun Row Drive in Etobicoke. I’ve slept in, I’m still a bit groggy and I’ve just scavanged through the fridge looking for the perfect breakfast. The roaster is staring me back, compelling me. Pick me. It will only take a few minutes in the fry pan. You know you want some. Yes, the breakfast of champions.