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Never Cook Your Cabbage Twice

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Diane calls from eastern North Carolina to talk about a phrase her father used if she asked him to repeat something: I never chew my celery twice. He probably conflated the idea of chewing celery with some far more common expressions involving doing something twice with cabbage, whether it’s buying, selling, cooking, or chewing it in a way that’s boring or distasteful. The ancient Greek expression Dis krambe thanatos literally means “Cabbage twice is death,” suggesting the idea that repetition is tedious. The ancient Roman writer Juvenal warned against having to teach a boring curriculum with a Latin phrase that means “Cabbage served over and over is the death of teachers.” By 1732, a similar idea was expressed in the proverb No sweetness is a cabbage twice boiled nor in a tale twice told. This is part of a complete episode.

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