Malta Style, One Pot Cabbage, Caraway Seeds, Bacon, Eggs, Parmesan
An old, large, hand-me-down dented tin pot whose inner lining wore permanent stains of discolor like water marks left at a geological site served many uses in its day. One such meal included the learned preparation of a relatively inexpensive one pot cabbage dish, well, all except the caraway seeds requiring a few extra coins into the community till for purchase between a group of typically cash- poor college students.
The recipe had no name, only a story, that according to Father Albert was an any day of the week except Sunday family dish prepared by Mom in his native home of Malta whose heartiness ensured nourishment to a family of seven growing children.
Having little knowledge or vision about the island of Malta, with the only exception being, that which Father Al, as he was affectionately called, was most proud is that St. Paul was specifically mentioned to have been shipwrecked there, written and according to the New Testament.
Father Al, the Catholic pastoral leader of the large southwest state university denominations youth center was always busy identifying the gifts of students upon which he would then set to a specified designated task.
If one enjoyed speaking, it was a short time before being called upon to do a reading at the weekly mass, if one was artistic, then it followed being singled out for doing anything from painting a wall to making posters for a special event and so on, and this is how it would go on down the lines to even the most obscure of gifts and talents that Father Al was so wholeheartedly fond of observing and promoting in others.
While Father Al could most easily be talked into a pizza party, so too was he encouraging toward the students gathering together to prepare meals between classes and study time. In one version of a shared table Father Al instructed the simple one pot cabbage dish, serving fond memory of both his family and his native land of Malta, the place where St. Paul was shipwrecked.
The Malta style one pot cabbage dish, simple though its ingredients, offered a certain complexity in its combination including the blended addition of the caraway seeds. There were no specified recipe amounts, only that lending an eye of approximation, a little of this, a little of that, and plenty of cabbage sliced up to fill up the old dented tin pot thus proportionately feeding a hungry bunch of students more eager to taste than stir.
Once in possession of the large jar of caraway seeds, there were more than a few occasions when Father Al’s Malta cabbage dish was prepared among its common ingredients whose simplicity seemed so easily remembered. That is, until the jar of the scented straw colored seeds of spice had long been depleted, and the sustaining reflections of a special recipe at the shared table served only as a happy memory so many years later.
Today, a large bright blue iron enameled pot sits on the modern range burner replacing the old hand-me- down dented tin pot of years gone by. A wood cabinet off to the side tucked between arrays of spices, hosts a small glass covered bowl filled with golden straw colored seeds labeled, caraway. Through a collection of memories an adapted recipe emerges, simple ingredients thoughtfully combined in flavorful complexity, a reminisce of happy times and an inspired cabbage dish with Father Al from the island of Malta, the place, according to the New Testament where St. Paul was shipwrecked.