Marlene Dietrich’s Favorite Recipe for Stuffed Cabbage

The French approach to food is characteristic; they bring to their consideration of the table the same appreciation, respect, intelligence and lively interest that they have for the other arts, for painting, for literature, and for the theatre. Alice B. Toklas

Marlene Dietrich met Jean Gabin in Los Angeles:

“I got to know Jean Gabin when he came to Hollywood. He had fled from occupied France. As always in such cases, I was asked to help him get used to his new life. My task was to speak French, translate, and to hunt around some French Coffee and French bread. […] But Gabin was supposed to perform in English. And he wanted to accept the challenge. So I taught him English. […]

I would cook native French dishes for the many French friends he had brought with him. One of them was Jean Renoir [a film director and son of the famous Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir]. Renoir loved stuffed cabbage, had an enormous appetite, and left immediately after the meal. At that time I was known in Hollywood for not taking offense at such behavior: You could come dine with me and leave when you pleased. No fuss, no fawning, Renoir greatly appreciated that. He was a frequent guest, and I made stuffed cabbage for him each time.”

My grandmother used almost the same recipe, my mother cooked Stuffed Cabbage (or “Golubtsy”, or “Provencal-Style Stuffed Cabbage”) for me, and now I cook it for my family.


– 1 medium head cabbage
– 1 pound ground beef, pork and veal
– 3/4 cup raw long grain rice
– 1 egg
– 1 (12 fluid ounce) can tomato juice
–  garlic powder to taste

In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil over high heat. Place cabbage in water, cored-side down; cover pan, and reduce heat to low. Steam 20 minutes, or until cabbage leaves pull apart easily. Drain and set aside.

Pull off large leaves, cut out the large vein.

In a separate large bowl, combine the beef (pork, veal), rice, garlic powder and the egg, mixing well. Place a small amount, about the size of your palm, into the center of a cabbage leaf and fold leaf over, tucking in the sides of the leaf to keep meat mixture inside.

Arrange them in a large, wide pot. Put the larger leaves on the bottom. Add the tomato juice and enough water to cover.

Bring to a boil and reduce the heat, letting them simmer covered on the stove on low for about 60 minutes.

Serve hot, topped with sour cream.

Bon Appetit!

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