Wednesday, November 4, 2015

On roasted broccoli

Oh broccoli.  You are such a tricky fellow.  When I bring you home, you look so magical and beautiful, sitting in the store like the proud, sturdy, green, tree-like vegetable that you are.  It is as though a wizard became angry one day came and shrank down an entire forest into 500 grams.  A portable forest to bring home and enjoy.   I always imagine that enchanted tiny forest creatures like foxes and owls are flitting through your florets, causing havoc amongst your leaves.

Your appearance makes it so that I can't help but sneak in a bite while prepping you.  I do this, even though disappointment is always experienced.  Despite your beauty, one finds nothing but cabbagey bitterness and florets that disintegrate weirdly in one's mouth.  And a practically inedible stalk.

But oh how things change when one puts this broccoli in the oven!  After a warm and cozy stint in under a high temperature, broccoli emerges darkened.  Which, as an already-dark vegetable, means it comes out a bit olive green, a bit charred, a bit brown.  Not the most appetizing array of colors.  And instead of being all proud and sturdy, it becomes limp and fragile.  The only forest that it resembles now is one that has experienced a wildfire.

But oh how appearances can deceive!  Once one takes a bite of these roasted brassicas, one rediscovers the magic!  Some sweetness, but without the cloying flavor of sweet potatoes or squash. And this soft sweetness is mixed with an edgy bitterness and then topped with hints of smoke.  One then takes another bite to experience that unique mix of tastes, and then suddenly one finds that the entire pan of broccoli (a pan meant to be the basis of dinner) is now gone.  And when that happens, one can only hope that a new dinner can magically appear on the table.

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