Oh well, THAT took about five minutes. (sigh) So a couple of days ago I promised a free drink to the first one to correctly identify the subject of this image:


If you’ve been reading the blog you may have noted my recent forays in the rainy Portland Farmers’ Market, which might have been a clue. It’s where I picked up this intriguing-looking, organically grown heirloom broccoli variant of cauliflower, Broccoli Romanesco (Roman broccoli):


As usual, Gary gets one free drink for being first to hit it generically  (and at this rate, Gary, it’d better be lemonade unless you want a hangover of elephantine proportions the next time you hit town). But Ondine not only named it, she gave the real name of the beast, so I think that’s good for another. Lemme know when you want to collect, Ondine.

Despite my love of cruciferous veggies, I mostly bought this one for its photogenic qualities. Between the leaves and the whorls on the fruit itself, it probably corners the market on mathematical equations. Those knobs are particularly interesting-looking fractals, arranged in near-logarithmic patterns, so I couldn’t wait to photograph it. After modeling, it would be sliced, roasted and incorporated into a linguini for my dinner.

whatisitbugs1Uhm…that was before I discovered its unexpectedly protinaceous enrichment, i.e., the thousands of buggy hitch-hikers it introduced to my kitchen. I set it up on the counter, in front of the copper blinds (if you’re into photographing produce, always get a kitchen with a black granite counter and you have built-in backdrops) and started snapping away. It needed long exposures that turned out to have odd blurry areas…

Went back and checked, and discovered green aphids, white aphids, odd little purple- and blue-striped bugs, caterpillars, gnats and spiders. (The dancing bugs are the soft blue-white spots on the photo at left)

whatisitbugsThat cauliflower had more insects than an ant farm, eagerly setting out to explore my kitchen. {sound effects at this point included very large shrieks}

I killed the bugs by immersing the offending veggie in a fast-running coldwater bath for about 15 minutes. I probably destroyed entire villages without a whit of conscience. Then I took the rest of my photos.

The bath didn’t faze the surviving bugs a bit–turns out those whorling nodes make excellent bug shelters. When the cauliflower had rested and dried a bit, they popped back out and resumed explorations. More bath, more bugs. When the three-inch caterpillar wended his way across my viewfinder, I pretty much lost my appetite for cauliflower.

So the cauliflower wound up in the yard debris bin outside. And I’m still itching and scrubbing down the kitchen.

You know, sometimes a few pesticides aren’t the end of the world..


P.S. Looked it up on the web and read that it’s very delicious, far more than regular broccoli or cauliflower. Also that the spirally, fractal florets are great hiding places for bugs and that it needs to be soaked in salt water for at least 15 minutes to get rid of them. Hmmmm. Must be the salt that does it; soaking in fresh water only encourages ’em…