Is it natural to call sauerkraut "cabbage"?

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Saluton

Banned
Russian
Let's say you're in a restaurant and there's someone eating sauerkraut. If he says "I'll just finish this cabbage and go," will you understand he is talking about his sauerkraut or will you start looking for a head of cabbage on the table?
 
  • Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Yes, I think everyone would understand him, but I don't know why he would say it like that.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    If one knows what sauerkraut is then it should be clear that the speaker is referring to it if he says "cabbage" and that is what he is in the process of eating. However, I like sauerkraut and eat it fairly regularly and would not refer to it as merely "cabbage", no more than I would say "I'll finish these potatoes" when I was referring to chips or fries.
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    It is understandable, and if he was eating sauerkraut everyone would know he was referring to it, since sauerkraut is a way of preparing cabbage. But there is a difference between "natural" and "understandable".

    Is this the situation you are thinking of, or is there another reason you ask the question?
     

    Albionneur

    Banned
    Tatar & Russian
    You may say it like that but sauerkraut is fermented cabbage, and in your case it would be like calling an "ice tea" "tea".
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    I agree that it doesn't sound natural in that scenario. If the person is trying to be funny, then maybe: I'll just finish this fermented/glorified cabbage.

    But even that doesn't sound that funny.

    From cabbage, you can make cole slaw / salads / cabbage soup / etc.

    "sauerkraut" is a whole different process.
     

    Saluton

    Banned
    Russian
    It is understandable, and if he was eating sauerkraut everyone would know he was referring to it, since sauerkraut is a way of preparing cabbage. But there is a difference between "natural" and "understandable".

    Is this the situation you are thinking of, or is there another reason you ask the question?
    This is an excerpt from a Russian novel "The Twelve Chairs":
    "Meanwhile the disheartened fire inspector had descended an attic ladder backwards and was now back in the kitchen, where he saw five citizens digging into a barrel of sauerkraut and bolting it down. They ate in silence. Pasha Emilevich alone waggled his head in the style of an epicurean and, wiping some strings of cabbage from his moustache, observed:
    "It's a sin to eat cabbage like this without vodka."
    http://lib.ru/ILFPETROV/ilf_petrov_12_chairs_engl.txt

    Some people argue here that it should have been "sauerkraut" in lieu of "cabbage" in the last sentence. The Russian original says капуста (cabbage) but there's no word "sauerkraut" in Russian. We call the dish квашеная капуста (fermented cabbage).
     

    Albionneur

    Banned
    Tatar & Russian
    In THAT context, sauerkraut is the word, as drinking vodka usually goes with something sour. Calling "sauerkraut" merely "cabbage" would sound as jocular or figurative as calling a tiger "cat".
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Well it's still cabbage, and the speaker may have wished to refer to that fact. He also says "to eat cabbage like this". Now "like this" is ambiguous, and may refer to his having to eat sauerkraut without vodka, but it may mean "cabbage prepared in this way" or "cabbage of this kind", in which case he may mean "It's a sin to eat cabbage when it is prepared like this, without having vodka with it". In which case, the use of cabbage would be justified. (This may not be ambiguous in the Russian, so it may be worth referring to that in order to see if it is a possible interpretation.)
     

    Albionneur

    Banned
    Tatar & Russian
    MM, the Russian text does indeed say "like this" and not "so". Meaning not "eat sauerkraut this way" (that is without vodka), but "eat cabbage cooked this way". So yours is quite a well-grounded observation.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    << Moderator note.
    The thread topic is clearly expressed in the first post.
    Let's say you're in a restaurant and there's someone eating sauerkraut. If he says "I'll just finish this cabbage and go," will you understand he is talking about his sauerkraut or will you start looking for a head of cabbage on the table?​
    Posts that do not address the topic have been deleted. >>
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Let's say you're in a restaurant and there's someone eating sauerkraut. If he says "I'll just finish this cabbage and go," will you understand he is talking about his sauerkraut or will you start looking for a head of cabbage on the table?
    I wouldn't look for a head of cabbage, but I certainly wouldn't expect it to be sauerkraut unless I could see his plate. I wouldn't refer to my sauerkraut as cabbage. Cabbage is the raw material from which sauerkraut is made. In the same way, I wouldn't munch on a pickle and say, "I'll just finish this cucumber and go".
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I personally would not mind hearing "cabbage" instead of sauerkraut. It would tell me that eating any cabbage without vodka was a sin. And that goes for all varieties of cabbage - fresh, cooked, sour, etc., including sauerkraut.

    Sauerkraut is, after all, cabbage. :)

    The example given in post 1 is slightly different and calling the sauerkraut "cabbage" under the circumstances described seems less logical. But I still would not mind that...
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Sauerkraut is, after all, cabbage. :)
    Well, only in the same way that pickles are cucumbers. :) In English, at least, they are seen as two different things. Pickles are made from cucumbers and sauerkraut is made from cabbage, but once it's made into the final product it is no longer just the raw material. It has become something else.

    Kimchi is not cole slaw and cole slaw is not sauerkraut, even though they all start out as cabbage.
     
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    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    I agree with JamesM. If I'm eating a salad, I don't say, "I'll have some bread after I finish my lettuce," even if my salad is nothing more than lettuce and dressing. It's salad now! People would understand me if I said "lettuce," but they'd think I was strange. :) Which would be my reaction if somebody eating sauerkraut talked about his "cabbage."
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    It's strange, indeed, I agree. But not unimaginable. I would not do it under normal circumstances. :)

    But in the context of "Eating cabbage like this without vodka is a sin", I quite like it. :)

    Just my personal opinion anyway, which does not necessarily have to do with the composition of sauerkraut and with the fact that sauerkraut is first and foremost sauerkraut and then only - cabbage... :)
     

    djmc

    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    Sauerkraut normally contains things like onion, sausage and bacon as well as pickled cabbage. If one has a plateful of it is called away one could say this to mean that one wants to finish of the cabbage part and would leave the rest.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    :eek:
    In many countries, including mine, sauerkraut is used to make various meals, including ones with bacon, pork and what not.

    But I never imagined that the very mention of the word "sauerkraut" in English invokes the image of bacon or bits of sausage, surely not! :eek:

    Still trying to digest that, sorry, I didn't know! And I can't see it here either:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sauerkraut
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    It doesn't evoke images of bits of bacon and sausage in my mind, boozer. :) To me, sauerkraut is just the pickled cabbage which can be used as part of a larger dish or just as a side dish by itself (or even as a condiment on hot dogs).
     
    Last edited:

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I wouldn't look for a head of cabbage, but I certainly wouldn't expect it to be sauerkraut unless I could see his plate. I wouldn't refer to my sauerkraut as cabbage. Cabbage is the raw material from which sauerkraut is made. In the same way, I wouldn't munch on a pickle and say, "I'll just finish this cucumber and go".
    That quite succinctly answers the original question (at least as far as American English goes).
     

    MuttQuad

    Senior Member
    English - AmE
    Sauerkraut normally contains things like onion, sausage and bacon as well as pickled cabbage. If one has a plateful of it is called away one could say this to mean that one wants to finish of the cabbage part and would leave the rest.
    Sounds like you're thinking of choucroute. In the US, sauerkraut is normally just cabbage without the other ingredients you mention; so the speaker's comment makes sense, especially inasmuch as the reader knows he's eating sauerkraut, and we've been told that Russian doesn't have an exactly equivalent single word.
     

    Albionneur

    Banned
    Tatar & Russian
    Bearing in mind that the usage in question occurs colloquially, we can draw a parallel to something like "Just wait until I finish my bird", speaking of someone who's eating chicken or duck.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Let's say you're in a restaurant and there's someone eating sauerkraut. If he says "I'll just finish this cabbage and go," will you understand he is talking about his sauerkraut or will you start looking for a head of cabbage on the table?
    I think there may be other possible reactions, as people have pointed out.

    If you understand different things by the word sauerkraut in the two sentences here, I don't see a problem. The person is eating sauerkraut the dish, something I often cook, the fermented cabbage with smoked sausages and a ham hock or two, and other choice items of charcuterie. If he had, as some people do, finished the bits of pork first, he would be left with the fermented cabbage, and I would understand him entirely were he to say he was going to finish the cabbage; he'd be distinguishing between the cabbage part of the dish and the meaty part.

    Were he talking about finishing the whole dish, i.e. eating up bits of meat as well as bits of cabbage, I'd be more surprised, though maybe not surprised enough not to understand what he meant.
     
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