We are all potatoes

By Joris Vermeir

Much of what we eat has a very international background. Seeds and plants know no borders. They travel freely with the wind, they are dispersed by birds and other animals such as humans. Do you know the story of sand being used to balance out ships that brought many varieties of plants from one harbour cross continent to another?

The potato was brought to Europe by the conquistadores from Central and South America, not as an edible species, but first cultivated for its beautiful flowers in royal botanical gardens. Europeans could not digest this noctunal (Nachtschattengewächs). Through selection only much later did it become the basic food for poor people.

In this dish you could easily replace red cabbage with beetroot and make a borscht, the Ukrainian national dish. Speaking of transgressing borders…

This is a great dish because it tastes great, brings a lot of comfort and, last but not least, you can almost forget about it when it’s cooking. There are a lot of recipes for red cabbage. This is the basis for a warm winter dish. To make it extra luxurous you can add chestnuts. Know that if there’s any left, it’s also great cold.

  • 800gr red cabbage and/or red beetroot
  • 2 onions
  • 2 apples
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 50 g of raisins
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • dash of lemon juice or cider vinegar


  • brown sugar
  • cinnamon
  • ground cloves
  • cider

Cut the cabbage finely using a sharp knife or mandoline slicer. Peel and chop the onions and apples. Fry them in oil in a large casserole (Creuset or Staub) together with the spices, add the cabbage, raisins, salt, sugar and lemon juice. Stir well. Add a cup of water. Put the lid on and leave simmering for 1.5 hours or until cabbage and beetroot is very tender while stirring from time to time. Alternatively, if your casserole is ovenproof, you can also bake it in the oven for two hours at 160 degrees.