Friday, December 4, 2009
Of Bees and Broccoli
Yesterday’s temperatures reached an unseasonable 66˚ (that’s 19˚ higher than the normal high of 47˚) and the bees of Let it Bee ventured from their hives in search of nectar and pollen. But it is December and the pickings were slim.
What they found was broccoli. When we were putting the garden to bed a few weeks ago, CSB wisely realized that the broccoli flowers were still beckoning the bees, and so we left them to keep bolting and flowering.
Now broccoli is a funny looking plant (but not, I think, as funny-looking as Brussels sprouts or artichokes). In botanical circles there is heated debate about which came first, the broccoli or the cauliflower. One camp asserts that broccoli came about when gardeners starting growing cabbages for their shoots, and from there cauliflower was developed and of course prized because it was white instead of green. (That color hierarchy seems to be a truism in the vegetable world. Viz. asparagus.) The other camp asserts that the broccoli is a mutant form of cauliflower that evolved during the Damp Decades of the Late Medieval Green Period.
The name broccoli comes from the Italian, and means “little arms” or “little shoots”. I’m not sure where the name cauliflower comes from, but it is a term of endearment in French, as in, “mon petit chou-fleur”.