Thursday, February 12, 2009

BROCCOLI BARNEY



As one who adores broccoli but hates cauliflower, I had to smile over this.

Here in Sicily the question is not so much whether broccoli or cauliflower is better for you as whether broccoli is what we know as broccoli in the UK or whether it is cauliflower. Broccoli is usually labelled as such when being sold and I would ask for cavolfiore if I wanted cauliflower, [which I wouldn’t] but it is a word I have never heard a Sicilian utter. Some people refer to cauliflower as broccoli bianchi [white broccoli]. “So why should there be any confusion?” you may ask.

The matter becomes important on Christmas Eve in Modica, when the traditional fare is focaccia bread [scacce] filled with “broccoli”. At least, that is what you are offered and copious amounts are piled onto your plate. It is hot from the oven , the pastry smells wonderful, you take a bite – and discover it is cauliflower. Only very rarely does it actually contain broccoli. This is fine if you like both vegetables, of course, but a social disaster if you don’t. I’ve learnt now to only accept a small piece of scaccia until I am certain.

Quite why the Sicilians insist on calling cauliflower “broccoli” when it is cavolfiore in the rest of Italy I have been unable to ascertain but I suspect it is because the dialect word for white cauliflower is vrucculi. And I am told that it’s always really cauliflower in scacce – unless it happens to be broccoli.

12 comments:

Gledwood said...

I had a similar difficulty in India asking for a lime for a cold cure... of course lime pickles etc are a fairly prominent part of Indian cuisine... I only got what I wanted though (eventually) by remembering my French and asking for "green lemon"...

Winchester whisperer said...

Their common ancestor is brassica oleracea

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, gleds. That was clever of you. Of course, if you asked for green lemon here that's exactly what you would get! Hi, WW. Quite so.

Betty (picture circa 1954) said...

I'd enjoy it either way. Sounds good to me!

James Higham said...

I adore broccoli too. Looks scrumptious.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Betty and James. Scacce are lovely but I do prefer the broccoli version.

sally in norfolk said...

sounds complicated to me.... good job i like them both :-)

jmb said...

I quite like cauliflower too but I must say that broccoli is more colourful in cooked things. Trust the Sicilians to walk to a different drummer.

A'Jay said...

Absolutely love broccoli, and am a bit wishy washy on cauliflower.. I think because as a child my mother boiled it till it was cream coloured mush... but lightly steamed or sauted broccoli...mmmmmm

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Very similar problems here (USA) ... I went into a "Jewels" in Chicago (bit like Tesco, but not as good) and asked a worker in the vegetable section "Where's the swede?" I got the strangest look and a terse response, "We don't sell Swedes (as in Swedish people) here sir." Turned out that the American word for swede is 'rudabaker' or some such concoction.

Nunyaa said...

I love both. Especially the cauliflower favorite of many, cooked with a cheese sauce. You know one of my fave vegetables is brussell sprouts...yum.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

You're lucky, Sally. Hi, jmb. Yes, you have to hand it to the Sicilians! I agree, A'Jay. Lovely story, Dr CW. I never heard of a rudabaker! Hi, nunyaa. I'mk afraid I don't like brussels sprouts, either. But broccoli, yes!

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