Friday, October 31, 2008

Of Cabbages and Kings

I don’t know about you, but I’m so sick of political ads, I could scream. If you don’t know who you’re voting for, hell, if you didn’t know who your boy/girl was two months ago, you probably shouldn’t have the right to vote.

Speaking of the right to vote, what’s with all this early voting shit going on? Not only has politics devolved to its lowest ebb in my lifetime, but now, we make it easier than ever to allow any moron the right to vote, and they don’t even need to wait until Election Day any more. Maine allows in-person and by mail early voting, and you don't need an excuse, or note from your mother, either. Contrary to popular opinion and national myth, the Constitution doesn't enshrine a right to vote, like it ensures the right to free speech, for example. This is because the Founders were suspicious of direct democracy. Democracy is not the same as freedom. Orwell's "meaningless words" ring truer than ever, this election cycle.

I happened to have it from several municipal sources that all this early voting, and the hoi polloi arriving en masse is taxing many town and city halls’ capabilities to meet the demand. On top of that our esteemed Governor Baldacci voted early himself, in order to "meet some voters in the morning," and then "relaxing and watching the returns come in in the evening." Isn't that special?

As an antidote to all the political madness and mayhem, I’m turning this weekend to one of my hallowed traditions—my annual rite of shredding cabbage, ala krautmaking. Actually, I’m about a month later breaking out the Krauthobel, or “Hobler” this year, compared to previous years.

While I’m late embracing my German-ness this year, cabbage also seems to be more difficult to come by. Could this be a result of the economic downturn and Americans turning to this longtime staple of the poor for sustenance?

Actually, while cabbage has been disparaged by many elites (do you think Obama even knows what sauerkraut is, let alone ever tasting it?), others, like Cato, advised fellow Romans to eat plenty of raw cabbage seasoned with vinegar before a banquet at which one plans to “drink deep.” Germans have long celebrated their annual Octoberfest with sauerkraut and dark beer.

During the first millennium A.D. Europeans were devouring stewed cabbage during the cold winter months because it was one of the few staples available when the ground produced little else.

At 27 cents per pound, I can put up 75 pounds of sauerkraut and still have change coming back from a $20 bill. In these tougher times, it’s worth a late fall afternoon shredding cabbage and beginning the fermentation process.

It was almost 10 years ago that my cousin, John, showed me how to make my own sauerkraut. It’s been a seasonal activity for me ever since. This year, I’m excited to be introducing my sister to the joys of krautmaking. Not only do I get to pass this part of my German heritage on to someone else, I have someone to take turns on the “pounder,” packing the cabbage tightly, which is part and parcel of the process.

Whether we have a Democrat/Republican occupying the White House come January, I’ll have my own batch of sauerkraut to get me through the dark days of winter and beyond.

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