Thursday, January 25, 2007

Tale of the alien cabbage

One evening, Sarah and I walked to the produce shop to pick up a few necessary additions to the stir fry I had planned for our dinner. Once there, I assigned Sarah to choose a fruit salad mix and wandered into the vegetable aisle myself. Near the broccoli, I stopped in my tracks and yelled for Sarah, who came skidding around the corner to see what was wrong.

Together, we stared at a geometric broccoflower-thing in a shade of radioactive green. The store had only labeled it as "Romanesco," and our bewildered staring weren't revealing any new details, so we went home to google it, hoping to learn which kooky geneticist had engineered this mad franken-vegetable.

Much to my surprise, I learned that Romanesco is a completely natural plant first described in texts from 16th century Italy. It belongs somewhere in the broccoli-cauliflower family, though nobody agrees which of the two is its closest relative. And yes, it is as near to a perfect fractal as can be found in nature. I had to try it.

So yesterday I returned to the produce stand and bought a head of alien-lime-green Romanesco broccoli and steamed it for dinner. It tastes more like cauliflower but looks bizarrely foreign even on the plate (especially next to the purple hue of our red-wine-braised chicken!) A normal, healthy vegetable that looks like a nuclear experiment gone wrong? I'm serving it at my next dinner party just as a conversation piece.

(Actually, is this stuff even available in the States?)


Anonymous said...

I'd eat that meal. Even the Romanesco.

Ian said...

That is one awesome looking plant.

I've never seen it before, I would certainly use it at dinner parties for the same reason.