Cabbages (Choux)

Random facts about French cabbages, different kinds of cabbage in France, how to cook it and what is the meaning of chou? Can you really call a girl “mon chou“?

Savoy curly cabbages at the French market

Cabbage Season

Autumn; Winter; Spring.
October – April.

Random Facts about Cabbages in France

  • One cabbage (chou); 2 or more cabbages (choux); Not to be confused with choux buns. Choux pastry dough is used for making eclairs, profiteroles, réligieuses etc.;
  • Most cabbages are grown in Brittany, Nord-Pas de Calais and Rhône-Alpes and although 7th biggest producer in Europe (EuroStat, 2016, the most chou crazy are Poland, Germany and Romania;
  • Cabbage is part of the cruciferae family, which also includes colza, turnip, radish and mustard;
  • There are 4 main types of cabbage: white, red (Chou Cabus), Savoy (round-headed) and Kale or Spring cabbage). The others from the same family are cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kohlrabi;
  • White cabbage (choux blancs) is mainly used to make the popular winter dish from Alsace, Choucroûte (Sauerkraut) and in salads;
  • Red cabbage is popular cooked slowly in vinegar and apples, a recipe cited as Choux Rouges à la Flamande by Chef Auguste Escoffier in his Guide to Modern Cookery (1903):
    Quarter the cabbages, suppress the outside leves and the stumps, and cut the trimmed leaves into a fine julienne. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, sprinkle with vinegar and put this julienne into a well-buttered earthenware cocotte. Cover and cook in a moderate oven. When the cooking is 3-parts done, add 4 peeled and quartered apples and a tablespoonful of powdered sugar.”
  • A popular French home-cooked classic cabbage dish is the Chou Farci recipe, using the Savoy cabbage.

Fun French Expressions with Cabbages

“Je suis dans les choux”
Familiar expression meaning “I’ve failed” or “I’ve got so many problems” (literally translated as I’m in the cabbages, as choux sounds like from the verb, échouer, to fail);

Mon chou; mon chou chou; mon petit chou
Literally translated as my cabbage or my little cabbage – but they are all a cute term of endearment meaning sweetie, darling or honey. So, you can really call a girl “mon chou”.

How to Cook Cabbage

One large Savoy cabbage goes a long way. For us, the most simple is delicious just panfried in a little water and served with roast chicken. Here’s how to cook cabbage the easiest way:

  • First discard the first outer leaves and remove the other large green ones;
  • Wash them well and cut out the hard vein in the centre;
  • Slice these leaves into strips then using the whole rest of the cabbage, thinly slice the rest cutting from the outside into the centre;
  • Sauté a garlic clove in some olive oil in a non-stick frying pan, add the cabbage, a teaspoon of caraway seeds (carvi) and a little water;
  • Turn over the cabbage and cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutes, no more (it should be cooked not limp).

Recipes with Cabbage

Paris Food Guide

From the kitchen