Let’s talk about this alien vegetable. It seems to be from a different galaxy and looks like it could have all sorts of powers of persuasion just as long as you don’t sit on it and spin.
I saw it for the first time at Broadway Market recently and I was so tempted to buy it, not to cook it necessarily, but perhaps to just stick it in a vase and have it sitting like some wonderful space flower on my windowsill. Alas, I did not. I was in the middle of a sixteen mile canal walk and didn’t really fancy bringing it along for the ride. I was also struggling slightly to imagine what to do with it, and it felt that to do it wrong might be sacrilegious.
The moment I saw it stayed with me though. I thought about it later, quite bizarrely, in the same sort of way one might think about the cute boy that smiled at you on the Tube that day but never spoke. I considered the idea that I might never see him again. I mean the vegetable, unless I had the lucky coincidence of having another opportunity to be in the same place and same time as it again. I didn’t even know what it was called!
Fast forward a few days and I am having a drink with a friend. He’s a cool dude, and he is also in the know, having worked as a chef and now for a great foodie website. ‘Carpe diem!’ I think to myself as I seize my opportunity, “this!” I say, practically shoving my iPhone in his face, “what is this?!” He laughs (either at me or with me) “it’s a Romanesco Cabbage” he tells me, “the fractals are naturally formed when…” But I don’t really hear any more, because Whitney Houston’s ‘I will always love you’ is playing too loudly in my mind.
I have done some internet stalking, and found out that the Romanesco is crunchier than your average cauliflower, but more subtle in flavour, delicate and nutty. It was first documented in Italy, and it’s form really is a natural approximation of a fractal.
I hope I can meet the Romanesco again soon. I guess in the meantime I’ll find some other more ordinary cauliflower. I can only wish, that when the time comes, and I fire up the heat in the kitchen, it will have been worth the wait.