Thursday, January 22, 2009

Outside Ideas.

The food reference for the new hard times should without doubt be the Food Facts leaflets put out by the British Ministry of Food during World War II. We could learn a thing or three about waste and about frugality in the kitchen by a thorough study of those old papers. The concepts of not wasting a crumb of bread, and finding creative ways to extend a small amount of animal protein are immediately accessible ideas at any time of the economy, but those pamphlets gave good advice too about the stuff most of us would normally throw away without a millesecond-length guilt attack. 
From a couple of the early leaflets, in the second half of 1940:
Example 1. The outside leaves of lettuce.
Cooked Lettuce.
Don’t make the mistake of using lettuce only as a salad. Lettuce cooked in a very little water makes a delicious vegetable, and you will enjoy even the outside leaves.
Example 2.  The outside leaves of cauliflower.
Cauliflower Leaves.
Always ask your greengrocer for the leaves of the cauliflower. As well as being rich in vitamins, the leaves taste delicious. Cook and serve them with the cauliflower, or have them as a separate vegetable the next day.
What do you think your greengrocer would say if you asked for a cauliflower in full leaf? Makes good sense though, doesn’t it? Especially considering that botanically speaking the cauli is exactly the same as a cabbage. Both are officially Brassica oleracea. The cauli is simply a cabbage cultivar grown for its flower head.
Cultivars are not always ‘natural’ – many are testament to the skills of human gardeners who have selected a particularly interesting or desirable feature of the plant (flower head, buds, leaves) and cultivated them in such a way as to maintain that feature. Other Brassica oleracea cultivars include kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, kohlrabi, and collard greens. All very good for you, apparently, with a possible protective effect against bowel cancer. Eat some today.
Quotation for the Day …
Cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education.
Mark Twain

1 comment:

Ferdzy said...

I've used cauliflower leaves (and radish and broccoli leaves, and other such things) to make gumbo z'erbes. Deee-licious. I have to admit, though, a little fatty pork improves them no end.

I've also written up a commentary about that quote from Mark Twain. Like a lot of people, you've only quoted half of it, and it changes the whole feel of it considerably.