Saturday, April 4, 2015

Trader Joe's Bean So Green

This is a frozen vegetable medley, the sort of thing that Trader Joe's has coming out the wazoo. It's easy to prepare--just microwave. It's mildly seasoned; it won't blow anybody away with bursts of flavor, but the TJ's Blandification Committee apparently took only small swipes at the product before releasing it.

My main complaint was balance, in that there were far more green beans than the other components, despite the package photo looking like roughly equal portions of everything.

The most notable thing about this item was our discovery of romanesco. Neither Nina nor I had been aware of this before. See those unusual pyramidal bits in the picture? That's romanesco--but the photo doesn't do it justice. It's the most astonishing-looking vegetable you've ever seen (or not seen, as the case may be):

Here's one beautiful photograph of what it really looks like:

(Thanks to the photographer for making this public domain. See here.)

It's fractal, with each of the big buds being made up of identical smaller buds, all of them having rows that correspond to the Fibonacci sequence. I can't stop looking at this. It's other-worldly.

Anyway, romanesco, we learned, is yet another cultivar of that amazing species Brassica oleracea. That's the species that, depending on which variety you plant, turns into cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, broccolini, and several other vegetables that most people think of as being entirely distinct entities. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that these are all the same plant. But they are.

Sadly, the romanesco in our package amounted to basically one bud apiece--terribly underrepresented. But it was enough to spark our curiosity about how two reasonably intelligent, informed people could have missed the existence of such a strange but beautiful vegetable through all our decades of eating.

How did it taste? About halfway between broccoli and cauliflower, I'd judge. But it was hard to say for sure, given only one decent-sized chunk to sample.

But remember--if you buy this item, you're not buying romanesco, despite me emphasizing it here due to its novelty. You're basically buying a bag of lightly seasoned green beans, with a few other token veggies tossed in.

Will I buy it again? 

I'm not planning on it, but I suppose it might strike my fancy again some day.

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