Of the vegetables, the stem, the leaf, the root, all these have attained, have come into themselves. Even the fruit, self-satisfied in its fertility, is as much ripe completion as it is beginning. But the broccoli is not even flower yet! Tighter than the luxurious druplets of a berry, these green or purple buds might tremble with pure potential and becoming if we could see these things.
As you probably know, broccoli is of the cabbage family - brassica - along with cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and, well, cabbages of all descriptions. You can edify yourself greatly by reading sneff's writeup on the topic - even learn why you should never, never overcook it. One day I will understand why overcooked broccoli smells like wind from the papermill town of Berlin, New Hampshire. Perhaps these chemicals are it. That does not mean the vegetable is evil, or even difficult to get right.

There are not that many vegetables of which we eat the flower bud. If you have grown broccoli in your garden, though, or seen it left too long in the market, you will know the tiny yellow fireworks that intend to burst from the green heads.

Broccoli is best started as a transplant about six weeks before last frost - then planted when risk of frost is gone. As they get larger, thin them to about a foot and a half apart. Give them room to grow. When the cental head is ready to eat (hasn't flowered yet), cut it off - but leave the side shoots, they will come into their own. Cutting on time encourages it to continue to produce, like deadheading flowers.

The stems of course are a vegetable in their own right. Peeled, crisp, white. The crudités angels might nibble if they had mouths or desire.

My sources say that too much nitrogen leads to hollow stems. You don't want that. Even people who don't like broccoli often like this sweet crunchy inoffensive treat. Of course, you can also leave the stems on when steaming or stir-frying your broccoli. It gives you a convenient handle if you like to eat with your hands.

And the leaves, often roughly discarded. Good as any other deep leafy green. The small ones, look at them sprouting from, dwarfed by that muscular stalk; perfectly formed, tightly curled as a baby's fist.

As with all vegetables, cooking can break down some of the nutrients in broccoli, so if you're just into getting supplements, eat it raw or take those nasty pills. However, broccoli cooked or raw offers up calcium, potassium, iron, folacin, vitamins A & C, fiber, and niacin. Yes! Calcium! Remember that if you're pregnant or vegan. Yes! Potassium! Remember that if you don't like bananas. And iron, of course, like any other deep green leafy thing. The color is a signal that they will feed your blood.

Color. Broccoli is nature's essay in green. Is green related to yellow or purple? Both. They are kissing, they are cousins. Green is pale and green is deep. The stem can look dusted with white, vague, but when cooked, the color is alive, and this is your key. No marketing department could come up with a better tool; turkey thermometer, ph test, anything. When the color is right, the broccoli is done. If it even hints at greyish, it is overdone.

  • Broccoli is friend to potato: Twice-baked potatoes with broccoli. Bake a potato, hollow it out, mash the filling with chopped-up sauteed broccoli and garlic. restuff. Top with cheese. Melt cheese.
  • Broccoli is friend to butter: Melt butter with nutritional yeast, black pepper and paprika and pour over steamed broccoli.
  • Broccoli is friend to tofu: Stir-fry broccoli with tofu, onions, red pepper flakes, soy sauce, honey, and rice vinegar.
  • Transitional Man is friend to broccoli: Lightly steamed, with butter and lemon.

I recently came upon this shard of wisdom in the Everything Quote Server:


May it serve you well.

Broccoli, a late variety of the cauliflower, hardier and with more color in the lower leaves. The part of the plant used is the succulent flower stalks. Although broccoli is inferior in flavor to cauliflower it serves as a fair substitute.

Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.

“I do apologize,” apologized Bartholomew, “for the situation in which we now find ourselves. I do feel terribly about the whole thing.” Bartholomew spoke carefully, his mouth being half-full of broccoli at the time.

“And why are you sorry?” asked the broccoli, “it is for this purpose that I was given existence. It is a terrible, cruel existence, true, but it is my birthright. Would you deny it me?”

“Only to offer you a better.”

“It is not yours to offer, would you defy your Creator?”

Bartholomew slumped. That is to say, his shoulders slumped. Very shortly after, he followed suit. “No. I would not. Rather I would deify Him.”

“Of course, as is proper. By definition one who has created you—one who has given to you your very existence—is a deity,” chided the broccoli.

“Not so,” argued Bartholomew, “by definition, ‘deity’ is the essential nature or condition of being a god. A god need not necessarily create, some may destroy, and some may do nothing but exert their petty influences upon this cruel universe in which we find ourselves trapped.”

“Or another,” offered the broccoli.

“What’s that?” queried Bartholomew.

“Or another universe,” repeated the broccoli. “Unless you are so arrogant to think that only our own universe has any gods.”

“I’m not qualified to say whether there are any other universes at all,” said Bartholomew sadly.

“Of course you aren’t,” agreed the broccoli, “but it would be arrogant, don’t you think, to believe that ours is the only one?”

“I suppose that’s true,” mused Bartholomew. “Oh… excuse me,” he said, having accidentally spat a bit of the broccoli as he spoke with his mouth half full. By now the portion of broccoli remaining in his mouth was quite well processed, and he swallowed.

“Not at all,” said the broccoli, “that portion of me which has now begun to nourish you is quite incapable of being aware of its fate. You have committed no crime to be pardoned of.”

“Pardon?” asked Bartholomew, “oh no, you mistake me. I meant to attempt conciliation for the spitting, not the swallowing.”

“I see,” replied the broccoli. “I feel that I must interject here, that I have enjoyed our conversation so far, but it is an inescapable fact that once you have finished consuming me, you will have no more of me left to talk to.”

Until the next meal,” agreed Bartholomew sadly. “So then, I will put down my fork. Let us talk.”

Blasphemy!” exclaimed the broccoli.

“Please?” pleaded Bartholomew. He set his fork down on the table, careful to rest it on his plate and not on the fine white linen tablecloth.

“It isn’t proper,” insisted the broccoli.

“But still I find the entire exchange very edifying,” begged Bartholomew.

“It is somewhat ironic,” lectured the broccoli, “that I should be the source of your revelation. Wouldn’t you think it should be the other way ‘round?”

“I suppose that’s true,” answered Bartholomew, “still, let’s continue?”

The broccoli sighed heavily, exhaling a great quantity of air in doing so. Bartholomew was too intent on the existential matters at hand to consider the ramifications of this seemingly innocuous action by brassica olearacea. “It is folly,” began the broccoli, “for your consumption of me to provoke in you any feelings of remorse. It is written:

"And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

“And so it has been ordained by God, whose status as deity you have recognized, that I am here for your consumption. I am fodder for the insatiable hunger you have been damned with. It is ironic that you pity me, for I pity you. I have no hunger.”

“Nor any joy,” countered Bartholomew.

“I have my own sort of joy,” lied the broccoli, “I take joy in fulfilling my purpose, which is to be fodder for men damned to this universe that you call cruel.”

“Damned? Then you agree that the universe is cruel,” declared Bartholomew, triumphant.

“I am not qualified to say that it is or is not,” evaded the broccoli, “I’m only a side dish.”

Broc"co*li (?), n. [It. broccoli, pl. of broccolo sprout, cabbage sprout, dim. of brocco splinter. See Broach, n.] Bot.

A plant of the Cabbage species (Brassica oleracea) of many varieties, resembling the cauliflower. The "curd," or flowering head, is the part used for food.


© Webster 1913.

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