A Post About Cabbages

We have a tradition here in New Orleans that I’m told is a bit odd. The Sunday before Saint Patrick’s Day, we throw cabbages at each other…in an organized way of course, or as organized as anything can be in New Orleans. It’s the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade and it’s just as big here as any Mardi Gras parade. New Orleans is rich in Irish heritage with many Irish immigrant families living here. So St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal. So is St. Joseph’s Day for the Italian’s, so the following weekend we have the Irish/Italian parade where we throw cabbages again.

I had always assumed that everyone had these St. Paddy’s day parades where they threw vegetables at each other. I guess that’s the result of always growing up in the same city and not traveling far from it. Correct me if other cities do this too, I’d love to hear about it! But today, we stood next to some Rhode Islanders who were down here for the first time because they “just had to see this.” They didn’t believe that people actually through food at each other from floats and the man struggled to get a picture of someone catching a cabbage so that the folks at home would believe him. They don’t only throw cabbages. Cabbages are the prize possession…it’s what everyone screams for. They also toss onions, potatoes, carrots, lemons, and other assorted foods. And of course there are tons of beads and other trinkets….what’s a parade without them? It’s tradition to go back home and cook what you caught, so needless to say, we’ll be eating lots of cabbage dishes for the next few days…blech! I hate the stuff personally. But I love the parade. I’d love to know more about the history behind it, but I couldn’t find much on it. I could make assumptions on where the tradition came from of throwing veggies, but I won’t since I really don’t know.

Here’s a picture of our loot. We did pretty good! Lots of cabbages, potatoes, a few onions, a mirliton, a couple of limes, a lemon, some celery, ramen noodles, a couple of oranges, a banana, 3 bars of irish spring soap, crackers, moon pies, and that green and white thing cut off on the side is a thong for guys with shamrocks on it (I did you all the favor of not modeling it for you ;). All caught at the parade along with craploads of beads, most of which were given away.


Unfortunately after the sun and a few beers I have quite the headache and I look like a tomato. Literally. It’s the worst sunburn I’ve had in a long time seeing as we completely forgot sunscreen and this vampire-bookworm doesn’t see the sun too often. So I’m retiring to bed now. Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!!


24 Responses

  1. I’ve never heard of anything so funny in my whole life – people throwing veggies at each other! I really appreciate you telling us about this. Sure do wonder how such a tradition ever got started. It will definitely be interesting to see if others write in that this happens somewhere else in the world. Take out the soup, banana and thong and you’ve got a yummy stew. Happy St. Patty’s to you too, Chris.

  2. Booklogged, It’s been a tradition down here for years and years. The parade’s been going on since the 40’s at least and I’d love to know where the idea came from…not necessarily the parade, but the throwing of vegetables. We usually do make a vegetable soup with some of veggies..that’s one of the many cabbage dishes *sigh*

  3. Oh my gosh…forget Mardi Gras…I want to come to New Orleans for St. Patty’s Day! I’ve never heard of such a thing in all my life! Never would have guessed that New Orleans had a big Irish population. Anyway, looks like you made a great haul! And I hope you’re feeling better soon!

  4. hmmm, I think I’ve missed out on that tradition..heh. At the price of food anymore I woulda been out there with a big bag! Of course that might be because my birth name is McCormick. (..mick is Irish, …mack is scottish) I love cabbage. Well.. I did. As one ages it’s a little rougher on us than it used to be..not that it was ever NOT rough ..heh.

    So I’m Irish…and my brothers birthday is St Patty’s Day. Mine was supposed to be too.. but I held out a week on me dear ol’ mom.

    But I have to admit… I’ve never seen the throwing of the cabbages before! lol

  5. Oooooookay. Nope, never heard of that. Sounds painful πŸ˜‰

    I’m planning on making soda bread but no vegetables will be harmed in the baking.

  6. Good grief, Chris! You’re making me think that New Orleans is this really fun place with one festival after another. We in NY have a lotta festivals too, mind you…but your excitement makes me think you guys actually have way more fun at festivals floats et al… on the whole all this joy and festival goodwill is pretty catching. No cabbage-throwing in these parts, though. Just a lotta wearing o’ the green. -C

  7. Just a question – does the vegetables have to be fresh?

    If they are fresh, St Patrick ‘s Day in New Orleans sounds great for this little vegetarian!

    Anyone slinging brussel sprouts by any chance?

  8. Never heard of a parade full of vegetable flings! Though we do throw pumpkins on Halloween (not at each other, just as far as we can. With homemade catapults).

  9. Debi, Oh yeay..we have a HUGE Irish population. In fact, we have an area of New Orleans called “the Irish Channel” and it’s one of the most famous areas hear. It’s quintessential New Orleans and while it’s a little beat up, it has more soul than many other places in the city. Many Irish immigrants also dies digging canals down here, so there’s a big memorial to them in another area of town. And there’s lots of Irish bars :p Love it!

    Deslily, Ok, so I’m seeing now that this is just a New Orleans thing! It’s great…no one has to grocery shop for a couple of days at least :p The people standing next to us from Rhode Island were freaking out every time they got some kind of vegetable and commenting on how much money they were saving! I was cracking up! I’d mail you a cabbage, but I don’t think it would smell too good by the time it got there πŸ˜‰ I didn’t know you were Irish πŸ™‚ That’s awesome! I love the Irish population in New Orleans…fun, fun, fun. We’re all British and Cajun French. I’ve gotta make it to England one day and track down the ancestors πŸ˜‰

    Other Chris, Technically they’re not supposed to throw cabbages, but they do anyway…they’re supposed to only hand them off the floats, but they THROW them. And they can “toss” potatoes and onions, but they THROW them. Definitely have to watch out sometimes πŸ˜‰ Yum for soda bread!

    Carole, Well then I’ve succeeded in telling you what we do in New Orleans πŸ™‚ We really do have one festival after another…I’m not joking…there are EASILY 200 festivals a year in New Orleans. My favorites are the Pecan festival, Orange Festival, Strawberry festival, Sauce Picante festival, Jazz Fest, Asian Festival at the Art Museum…the list could go on and on…It’s fun! That’s the one great thing about New Orleans though. There’s a lot of goodwill among it’s citizens despite all the crime you hear about on TV…and there’s plenty of that too…but we all just basically have fun. We get together, have a few drinks, talk to strangers and laugh, eat some good food, listen to some good music, and sometimes catch things that are thrown at our heads. That’s what I’ll really miss moving away from here…you don’t find that anywhere else. But I can always visit! And who knows…we might be back! Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day Carole!

    D-O, I’m pretty sure that they have to be fresh πŸ™‚ At least I didn’t catch a single rotten vegetable or even one that was overly ripe. Even the banana that I caught was perfect if not a little unripe! Indeed, I think St. Paddy’s day here would be perfect for you! It would be like free groceries for a week. I didn’t see any Brussel Sprouts, unfortunately. Really the strangest vegetable I saw being thrown was mirlitons and those aren’t even strange down here…but lots of others don’t know what they are. Brussel Sprouts would make a perfect through though…you could fit plenty of those on the float!

    Jeane, Yeah, I’m thinking it’s just a New Orleans thing. Your Halloween tradition sounds like so much fun!!! There’s nothing better than an exploding pumpkin and I’m sure it’s made even better with a catapult. So is it a contest? Like each family makes a catapult and you see who’s flings it the farthest?

  10. lol, that is odd! And hilarious!

    Apart from the sunburn, it sounds like you had a wonderful time πŸ™‚

  11. yeah yeah, I’m Irish and English…but I don’t drink like either of them lol…

  12. Nymeth, It really is hilarious. It’s a fun time and we look forward to it every year. I just don’t look forward to the cabbage dishes for weeks afterwards….yuck!

    Deslily, LOL! I don’t drink like the English either! But the rest of my family does.

  13. Now that’s just weird…

    But it also sounds like fun.

    And I would love to get a little burned.


  14. That sounds like fun! I am not a big fan of cabbage either. Blech! We need better parades around here, but we are such a little place, they leave a lot to be desired! Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

  15. CJ, It is indeed weird :p And alot of fun! A little burned would’ve been nice…as burned as I got is not fun at all!! My face is still on fire and it’s starting to peel already…seriously, I look like something out of a horror movie.

    Kailana, It was fun. We tend to have parades for everything here. Any excuse to get drunk really :p Happy St. Paddy’s Day to you too!

  16. Okay, organized or not, I’m going to pass sharing this with my class…throwing vegetables is just what they’d LOVE to learn about! πŸ™‚

    Myself, I’m just sticking to corned beef and potatoes.

  17. Bellezza, LOL! yeah, I don’t think that the little ones need to be encouraged to throw vegetables at one another. Though of course this is a family favorite as far as parades go here. I remember being in love with this parade as a kid and I’d get so excited when I’d catch something I could eat off of a float! Enjoy your corned beef and potatoes!! And Happy St. Patrick’s Day πŸ™‚

  18. OK, I must say that’s a little odd… But then if they can have a tomato festival in Spain, why the hell not? St Patrick’s day celebrations tend to vanish round here, unless it’s a Friday or Saturday when people will try to force you to drink Guinness and put on fake Irish accents. It’s freezing cold and drizzling here though, so that might explain the differing approach πŸ˜‰ Enjoy the sunburn!

  19. Stormfilled, It’s odd to say the least πŸ˜‰ We tend to forget that our traditions are strange though…we have so many strange traditions here. Ah, if only we’d have true Guinness here. We get this bottled crap here and it’s just not the same as drinking it in a pub I’m sure. The sunburn is hell! I wish it would go away 😦

  20. That’s the funniest thing I’ve read all day! Sorry about your sunburn. It feels too early to get fried, but I have a watchband mark from standing outside, watching the birdies. Soak yourself in aloe vera, babe.

  21. That sounds like a really fun tradition, and no, in MN we do not throw vegetables at each other for fun!

    If you don’t like cabbage, perhaps you haven’t had it cooked the right way. I thought I hated it until my husband made this great stew with potatoes, cabbage and sausages.

    Happy St. Patty’s Day! Sounds like it was pretty enjoyable.

  22. Bookfool, Glad I could give you a laugh πŸ˜‰ Yeah, the sunburn sucks pretty bad…I wish it would just go away! Isn’t it crazy that we have sun burn this early? I’ve been slathering on the aloe vera!

    Kim, It is a fun tradition…you just have to be sure to duck those potatoes when they’re coming full speed ahead! Cabbage is ok I guess cooked certain ways, it’s just not my favorite..but I do love any kind of sausage so your recipe sounds good!

  23. that really sounds like a fun tradition πŸ™‚

  24. I’m late I know–I took of for Lent–but having seen it first hand (more fun than Mardi Gras, and more families), I have to say that the vegetables are all fresh. Yup. Not a single canned vegetable being thrown from a float. πŸ˜‰ But Chris! You didn’t mention the tradition of drunk 60+ year old men soliciting kisses from pre-teen girls for paper flowers! For shame! (Oh wait, did I say “families”?) Truly, though, I love the Irish-Italian Parade!! The goal is to get enough veggies for a stew!

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