Sunday, December 26, 2010

Crucifying the cruciferous

Native Americans used to honor the animals they slaughtered for food.  I'd like to do the same for the first broccoli I've ever grown. 

It got a lot larger, even in the time since
Cayley posed with it just four days ago.
Cayley wasn't even here to share the moment with me, because she's visiting paternal family who are in town, but the decapitation had to be done tonight.  Tomorrow it would have been past its prime.  This I could tell.

A right proper specimen.
The underside.  Reportedly, gypsy broccoli crowns are not supposed to get as large as conventionals, because they divert part of their energy to their side-shoots.  This guy is fairly large.  I can't tell you how many people tell me in their personal modes of absolute God-given certainty that we can't grow a comparable volume of food using organic methods, because organic yields are so vastly inferior.  Well, I'm not feelin' it: here's a damned big broccoli that I grew in my first six weeks of stumbling through the effort as an absolute Newbie. 
Looks pretty convincing to ME.
The proverbial moment of truth.
Steamed, not too severely, with butter and salt. 

First observation was visual: you probably cannot tell from the photo, but if someone unknown to me had served me this bowl, I might not have eaten it.  It was more intensely green than the grocery store stuff (even the g-store organics), and that would have raised my suspicions about it possibly being color-enhanced.

Second observation was sensory: it didn't taste like grocery store broccoli.  There were whole ranges of tastes that were absent (tough and sharp sensations and bitter undertones) and other tastes that were present (smooth and deep sensations like being in a thick forest in the middle of the night).  Were I a wine-taster or something, I might have better English vocabulary for this.   The best analogy I can give you is that it was the broccoli-equivalent of one of those very large, incredibly expensive mushrooms.  Have you ever had one of those gourmet mushrooms prepared in a fancy restaurant such that the mushroom actually comes out tasting like some sort of complexly-flavored meat rather than like a slab of fungus?   Like the thing in itself is a meal.  That's what this bowl of broccoli was like.  It was just a single vegetable, but it ate like a meal in itself.  I'm not kidding. 

Third observation was intellectual: the first coherent sentence through my mind was, "I would pay big bucks for stuff this good if I could buy it at the farmers market or a specialty store."  It was REALLY good.  I'm not just saying that because I grew it.  Lawrence had a piece and said it was certainly the best he's ever had in his life (and he hates broccoli). 

Fourth observation was emotional:  I was kinda bummed when I realized that I would not be able to buy the likes of it at any price, anywhere.  It simply doesn't exist in the outside world.

I saved about half the head for Cayley (who genuinely likes broccoli, although perhaps not as much as I do).  She HAS to try this.  She has to learn what food is SUPPOSED to taste like, what it DID taste like before industrialization took over virtually our entire food system.  Even if she doesn't get to eat many of these kinds of things throughout her life, I want to see the old wisdom carried forth, at least in the form of awareness

People are obese now in part because they don't eat a normal-calorie diet base that includes lots of vegetables.  And they don't eat vegetables because the vegetables available for sale taste like shit.  And they taste like shit because they're grown in industrial settings calibrated for sheer quantity regardless of whether or not the stuff is actually edible.  If we could just have properly-grown vegetables, people would enjoy them and the act of eating them would no longer be seen as the burden it has become.  And they might then just naturally get thinner and healthier.

It's one thing to explain that causality to a kid.  It's a much more powerful lesson for her to actually experience it. 

This whole gardening thing is fascinating.  I have no idea what to expect next.

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