11 January 2014


Broccoli is often the quintessential food that picky children hate to the point of becoming a cliché. So maybe it’s a bit weird or unexpected that I like broccoli, but I really do, and I can’t recall ever having a problem with it.
Just picked up these crowns today at Sobey's.  Lately I've had really terrible luck with broccoli in Toronto and I have
been forced to throw a lot of it out.  I have really high hopes for these ones, though.  They look absolutely perfect,
and I love when grocery stores sell them without too much stem.
 But not all broccoli is created equally.  In order to be worth eating, broccoli should be prepared in a specific manner.  Ideally it should be steamed, but it should always be undercooked—there are few things in this world worse than mushy broccoli.  Although perfectly acceptable plain, it’s value is really augmented by the addition of either butter, or better yet, grated cheddar cheese or cheese sauce.  It also pairs well with cauliflower and carrots, as shown below:
Broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots: cooked to perfection and ready for consumption.
You can notice in the above photos that I am always careful to ensure that each piece of broccoli that I cut up is a tree unto itself.  Sometimes you have to sacrifice the integrity of a tree if it is simply too large, but as a general rule I like to maintain this structure.  In fact, I cannot abide halved trees or a crown that has been recklessly cut up.

It is also worth mentioning at this point in time that broccoli can also be consumed raw, and that is perfectly fine, although rarely preferable.  Raw broccoli almost stings your mouth, so it's always recommended to cook broccoli if possible.  Of course, some events lend themselves better to raw broccoli, such as casual get-togethers in which people nibble rather than feast.  Although, it is generally ill-advised to cook broccoli for a dinner anyway because it's difficult to gauge how another person likes their broccoli cooked.

There are, however, two major concerns that must be voiced in any broccoli review.  The first is that cooking broccoli produces a horrific odor, and if you live with another person, you should be careful to cook your broccoli only when that person is already at home, or when you can be absolutely certain that they will not be returning for quite some time.  Few things in this world are more cruel than having someone come home to a house that reeks of recently-cooked broccoli.  The second concern is that selecting a perfect crown of broccoli is no easy task.  Often grocery stores are left with an abysmal selection of broccoli.  Either the flowers have started to yellow (or worse yet, brown), or the stems have turned rubbery or have gone white and hard inside.  In recent months I have become increasingly vigilant about the quality of broccoli I buy because I am convinced that last winter I ate some broccoli that had gone bad and suffered mild food poisoning as a result.  The best broccoli will have a mix of rich, forest green colouring and a more vibrant bright green.  The flowers will also be tightly packed and probably quite small.  You should be wary of a crown if the flowers are starting to pull apart, and avoid it at all costs if there is any sign of yellowing/browning.
This picture perhaps better captures how I insist that my broccoli be prepared for cooking.  Although it looks like
there is some yellowing on the flowers, I can assure you that is due only to the poor quality of my phone.
Despite some dangerous pitfalls, broccoli remains one of my favourite all-season vegetables.  Unlike peas and green beans—which are my favourites—it is usually possible to get high-quality broccoli at any time of the year, making it one of the most versatile vegetables.  It is our extreme good fortune that quality carrots and cauliflower are two other vegetables that can often be purchased during any season.

Did you know that broccoli is cousin to the cabbage?

For me, such knowledge should cause long-lasting diet-restricting damage.
And yet, I continue to eat this little cabbage-tree—
Less out of necessity and more just for glee.
You don’t always have to love the family you wed into:
Ignore the blood line and slice that broccoli head in two,
Slather it with butter or grated cheddar cheese,
Because sometimes it is better to not see the forest for the broccoli-trees.

1 comment:

  1. At first this broccoli post was kind of boring, like it was too bland, like something you could find on any old food blog. But then I got to the poem.