February 16, 2015

Blog the Twenty-seventh: On Cauliflower 'n Pasta Two Ways.

Sweet Pasta Soup
or Savoury Pasta Sauté

Cauliflower is understandably unpopular.  It makes a bad first impression with its raw, vaguely acned, perhaps fungal visage [and that new green spiked hybrid looks all Martian, doesn’t it?]; its whiteness is more off-white than creamy; its neutral aroma, off-putting for its very neutrality. 

And yet, drawn out, it’s like that phlegmatic friend of yours, whose features are content to remain immobile most of the time, and who is slow to speak and speaks few words, but with a mildness that grows pleasant as it becomes familiar, and which in time is belied by a sharpness of wit and acuteness of perception that is all the more winning, once recognized, for the dullness of its delivery.  One comes to savor such dullness.

I have a subset of Gentile friends who like to say, “I don’t like vegetables, but I like your vegetables.”  One is tempted magnanimously to accept such praise as one’s due, but truth is that the praise, if due, is not due me but rather my people.  In fact, it may be that it’s not due so much to our working magic with vegetables as Gentiles wreaking havoc with them.  The traditional Gentile boils cauliflower down just short of pablum, and then smothers it with butter, cream, or cheese, or else some eclectic concoction of overbearing spices and/or arbitrary toss-ins.  The reformed Gentile is worse yet, erring by defect rather than excess, intent on convincing the rest of us that cauliflower tastes great raw—which is not true, unless you’re a bug, a rodent, or a vegan—with the ulterior motive of getting us to eat healthy rather than happy, on the strength of some rat’s having lived longer or run his wheel faster when fed proportionately ridiculous portions of it for six months.  All this does cauliflower wrong.