Also known affectionately as ‘Vic Market’ or ‘Queen Vic’, the Queen Victoria Market has been the heart and soul of Melbourne for more than a century. A historic landmark spread over two city blocks, it’s a vibrant and bustling inner-city market where you can shop for everything from Australian fruit and vegetables, and local and imported gourmet foods, to cosmetics, clothing and souvenirs. Because there is so much to see, I have broken the post into fruits and vegetables, this is obviously the vegetable portion. Although the variety of vegetables looks similar to an American supermarket, the species and names are often different. I love farmers markets and while I understand many will find these posts less interesting, you cannot understand the food on your plate without understanding the ingredients. The watchwords of the new cuisine are local, fresh and renewable.
In ancient times cabbage was revered by the Greeks for its many medicinal properties. On a visit to ancient Egypt, the Greeks, thinking their cabbage was superior, even had seeds brought in from Rhodes. The European aristocracy of the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries, on the other hand, turned up their noses at the mere mention of cabbage or coleworts as it was known in medieval times. Cabbage in the form of sauerkraut was a familiar essential at the medieval table. Some historians believe that the idea of pickled cabbage was brought to Europe by the Tartars and developed into sauerkraut by the Celts who were cultivating the headed variety of cabbage around 200 BCE. If language can be our guide, the Dutch may be the originators of coleslaw: kool means cabbage and sla means salad. Medieval records that tell us that cabbage was frequently found bubbling in a cauldron with whatever meats were available. Though we don't know when the head cabbage developed, we do know that the Savoy cabbage was one of the variety of dishes introduced to the French by Catherine de Medici who arrived from Florence in 1533 to wed the heir to the French throne. Rotkhol is typically served with Rouladen, meatloaf, Sauerbraten or Roasted Duck in addition to almost anything.