When doing the thing that I do, it is sometimes difficult to write about certain topics. I mean really, how does one make the topic of Broccoli sound interesting and intriguing?
There are many threads in which I can approach the topic…for instance, President George H Bush had vocally disdained the green vegetable, and…how does the phrase go…An enemy of my enemy is my friend? But alas, Bush the elder isn’t really my enemy (although we have differing political leanings), so it doesn’t make a really good theme when approaching writing a post.
I could write about how Broccoli is relatively new to us Americans. Stephano and Andrea D’Arrigo re-introduced the green product to San Jose and Boston at roughly the same, surely taking into account the large Italian immigrant populations in both areas. From there, it took off in popularity. The irony here is that even though broccoli has only been popular on this side of the world for 80 years, it’s cultivation for food may have occurred as early as 8,000 years ago when an ancestral vegetable was grown along the Northern European coast. From there a variation surely made it’s way to Italy where it became popular (the Romans loved the stuff), but rarely elsewhere. The French barely acknowledged poor broccoli, and the English dismissed it.
Even after Broccoli became popular here, there were critics of the vegetable. Too common or too much like “spinach” were the claims. I am of the opinion that these critics were talking out of their tuckus.
If you’re curious about this type of thing, Broccoli is in the Brassicaceae family and is classified as Brassica oleracea italica belonging to a family whose other members include cauliflower, kale, cabbage, collards, turnips, rutabagas, Brussels sprouts, and Chinese cabbage. The Brassica vegetables all share a common feature. Their four-petaled flowers bear the resemblance to a Greek cross, which explains why they are frequently referred to as crucifers or cruciferous.
But, it should be noted that although George Bush, the English, the French, and various food American food critics of the mid 20th century have disliked broccoli, many people have enjoyed it. Roman Emperor Tiberius (14 BCE to 37 BCE) had a son named Drusius who loved broccoli. It is said that he once excluded all other foods, gorging only on broccoli prepared in the Apician manner for an entire month. When his urine turned bright green and his father scolded him severely for “living precariously”.
Let it be said, for the record, that my definition of “living precariously” differs dramatically from Tiberius’s.