“Boy, you better eat those greens! In this house…if I cook it, then you will eat it.”
I remembered my mother telling me those words when I was either eight or nine years old. It was first time I came across collard greens and it was one of the few vegetables that has remained in my diet as an adult. I had no idea something that looked like collard greens could taste so good. My mother cooked those collards with ham hocks and it was the first vegetable I enjoyed eating.
The American South love their greens. A tradition throughout this region of America, greens have held an important place on the table for well over a century, and there is not another vegetable that comes close to its importance. Greens are any sort of cabbage in which the green leaves do not form a compact head. They are mostly kale, collards, turnip, spinach, and mustard greens. Collard greens are vegetables that are members of the cabbage family, but are also close relatives to kale. They are boiled or simmered slowly with a piece of salt pork or ham hock for a long time (this softens their rough texture and smooths out the bitterness) until they are chewable.
The style of cooking greens in the American South came with the arrival of African slaves to the southern colonies. However, collard greens did not originate in Africa. The ancient Greeks and Romans grew collards and kale. This vegetable has a long history and was a favorite for many people around the world.
Here are some facts about Collard Greens: