Saturday, December 03, 2005

Cauliflower Camouflage

Fresh Cauliflower (Macro shot) (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education." ~ Mark Twain
My younger brother, Stephen, is now 43 years old. He is a very good cook and loves lightly steamed and sauteed vegetables of all kinds. His taste in vegetables has changed over the years; as a child there were many that he would not eat. Today his excuse is that our parents cooked and boiled and heated them to death until (as he puts it) "they were a nondescript gray color with the consistency of thick oatmeal". Be that as it may, he didn't like vegetables, especially cauliflower.

Of course, because he didn't like cauliflower and wouldn't eat cauliflower, my mom and dad tried to make him eat it, not by force but by clever manipulation and some help from our grandmother. She and my mom got together and decided they would disguise or camouflage the cauliflower. How? You might ask (or not). The plan was to cook it thoroughly in salt water, drain it completely and then mash it and whip it and make it look like "mashed potatoes"! "He'll never know the difference."

This was a stupid plan from the beginning on all fronts. First of all, cauliflower is not meant to be mashed, it won't whip up soft and fluffy; instead, it turns into a light beige colored, soupy mash with a consistency somewhere between grits and gruel. Nothing helps. The more you heat it the more watery it gets, adding milk doesn't help, adding cheese doesn't help. Even if you cook it until by some miracle you get the water to evaporate, it still comes out looking like mashed cauliflower. So, Grandma tried another plan. She put the boiled, beaten, mashed, and whipped cauliflower in a glass baking dish and covered it with a generous layer of cracker crumbs; and then she cooked it again in the oven. Never in the annals of time had one head of cauliflower been through so many cooking stages. Any remnants of nutritious value in the form of heat labile vitamins were long gone.

They were so proud. Being the oldest by (mumble, mumble) years, I knew what they had done but was sworn to secrecy. We sat down to eat. Stephen was four or five. Everyone tried to look nonchalante and normal, but everyone had their eyes on him. Grandma spooned some of the concoction onto his plate. Stephen stared at it, looked at the mound sideways, sniffed it and asked "What is this?" Grandma lied, "It's twice baked mashed potatoes. Try it."

Herein lies another reason this plan was doomed to failure. While my taste buds have never been that discriminating and they might have been able to pull this over had I been four years old; Stephen has the singular best sense of taste I have ever seen. He can taste a dish in a restaurant and list the ingredients, including all the spices. At the time, however, no one knew this. He took one bite. His face turned red, his mouth puckered and his eyebrows furrowed together. His jaws were going and you knew, you just knew that in a second that stuff was going to be back out on his plate. Sure enough, out it came. He looked at Mom and Grandma accusingly, "That is not mashed potatoes, that is ground up cauliflower with some cheese in it. Yuck!"

He was right of course, it was "yuck". I wouldn't eat it. When everyone else tried it, they didn't like it either. We ended up throwing it out, or maybe Dad ate it. He is like the little boy Mikey.....he'll eat anything. They never tried this again, at least not with this vegetable and never again did they try to mash one up and pass it off as potatoes. But they did try this thing with yellow squash in a casserole........

Submission for MacroDay topic "vegetable". (end of post)

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