Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Brief History of Broccoli

Originally published April 9, 1984

The Kitchen Mouse first learned to appreciate broccoli from his Italian grandmother. Today, we no longer need an Italian grocer in the neighborhood in order to enjoy this tasty member of the mustard family, which also includes cabbage.

Broccoli was known to the Romans in the time of Pliny, but references to this vegetable group it with cauliflower. The first notice of broccoli, as such, was made in 1724 by an English writer who called it “sprout cauliflower” or “Italian asparagus.”

It has been grown in America for a number of years. Thomas Jefferson mentions that it was available in Washington markets, but it only became popular during the 1920’s. In fact, it probably holds a record for the short time required to gain acceptance by the American people and importance as a commercial crop.

The Kitchen Mouse serves broccoli once or twice each week since it is available year-round in our local markets. When purchasing it, one should look for unbruised, tightly closed heads with no flowers. Broccoli is versatile, as the following recipes suggest.

Golden Cheddar Broccoli Bake
Broccoli with Black Olives
Broccoli and Rice
Curried Broccoli and Onions
Steamed Broccoli

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