When in Rome

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

  • It looks like something that you might find in the sea, a rare coral formation perhaps, or maybe an anemone of some kind. In fact, you might already know that it’s neither. This is a Romanesco broccoli, and somehow until this year I had never seen one before.

    I first came across this curious vegetable at a fruit and veg stall on Portobello Road in London. My curiosity demanded that I pick one up to look at it more closely. As geeky as it might sound, I’m fascinated by the prevalence of spirals in nature, and the striking pattern of the repeating spirals on the Romanesco reminded me of mathematical fractals.

    Since then I seem to have encouterd Romanesco broccoli all over the place. I saw them again in the UK, then at a farmers market in Montreal. In Seattle, my friend Becky randomly got one in her veggie box, then today I came upon them once again at a farmers market here in California. Technically it’s not really a broccoli, and while it’s sometimes called a cauliflower, it’s not one of those either. It is in fact in a class of its own.

    This evening I finally got the chance to taste one. My friend Erin roasted the Fibonacci spiraled vegetable at 400 degrees in delicious local olive oil from Figone’s of California Olive Oil Company, then served it lightly sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. The verdict.. Mathematics never tasted so good!