Perhaps it was slicing through the 49th head of cauliflower that landed on my green board for chopping this week that I got to thinking about this humble veg and how I am seeing it everywhere. Cauliflower soup, cauliflower fritters, cauliflower rice, cauliflower salad or even the innovative cauliflower pizza crust. (Wish I thought of that one!) But the question is, where have you been all my life, dear cauli, save for my youth in your most delicious form, the inimitable cauliflower cheese? Undoubtedly it is only a matter of time before this poor brassica will be abandoned and considered, ‘ahem, like, so last season’, just like it’s sister, former superfood Kale Kardashian, and we, dedicated fashionistas that we are, will all be jumping on the next bandwagon (which is apparently a toss up between seaweed and insects), with promises of the sun, the moon and the stars. Oh you won’t even need your next dosage of botox with all the vitamins and minerals in seaweed. Okay, true to an extent, but almost all vegetables could be considered ‘superfoods’ in their own right, no?
Take, for example, the potato. I have been learning more about the Famine in Ireland as of late and was surprised to hear on this podcast that the potato alone, if served with some buttermilk is nutritionally complete, full of vitamin D, C, potassium and iron. The Irish people of that time were dining on the spud for breakfast, lunch and if fortunate enough, their dinner too. Although an incredibly bland diet, the people were strong and relatively healthy, so much so that it is claimed that, on average, the Irish man was an inch and a half taller than his English counterpart. A nutritional powerhouse right there, if you ask me. (By the way, if all this talk is tempting you to a few nourishing spuds for dinner tonight, you will find fabulous recipes here.)
Alas, back to the cauliflower – how long has it left? As farmers prepare to sow the cauliflower crop for winter 2016/2017 in the coming weeks, are they at risk that by the time it has sprouted, it will no longer be desirable or fashionable enough to eat? Just like that. What then for the hard-working farmer? Left with an unnecessary glut of unwanted produce, like a fashion designer forced to sell a warehouse of stock at cost price or less because Vogue has just declared it ‘dated and passé’.
Or what will be the reaction when a restaurateur includes tempura of cauliflower on the menu next year, even though some publicist or another has declared a new superfood to the people. Will we be rolling our eyes as if we have been asked to don a short-sleeved flannel shirt and a pair of sandals, with socks? Shock horror! (For those not catching on, they were never in season.)
It is time to let our tastebuds do the talking. While keeping creativity and fun in the kitchen, it is time to allow vegetables be timeless, to exist on menus, always, in whatever way possible. To be trendy because they are, literally, in season. Do we not owe it to the farmer who has done so much for us already by planting, watering, feeding, caring and harvesting our vegetables, in the cold, the wind and rain, to ensure he or she is not left, discouraged and disheartened, with acres of mindless waste? If it tastes good, eat it, every season. Variety is the spice of life and how wonderful would it be to have a choice of cauliflower, quinoa, potato, kale and seaweed all on one menu, regardless of the year!?
And, if you are so inclined, let the fashion world impress upon your choices. After all, you can always tuck away that neon jacket to the back of your wardrobe until the next decade, or, if you are a cutting-edge style guru, you might even be able to hand it down to the next generation. Unfortunately however, it is not quite the same story for our friends cauli and kale.