Until about two weeks ago, I had never heard of "riced cauliflower." Then I started seeing people on Twitter post photos of these bags, full of excitement, even though they had not yet even had a chance to cook and eat it. It did not escape my attention that most of those tweets include hashtags like #paleo or #paleodiet.
Nearly everything important about the so-called paleo diet has been so thoroughly debunked that it's hard to believe it still has people living by it. (See here, here, here, and here, for example.) Wait--I take that back. It's not hard to believe that, because people are faddish, gullible, and lacking in critical thinking skills. You'd have to be, in order to be duped into thinking that buying a bag of frozen chopped cauliflower--a vegetable that DID NOT EXIST in paleolithic times--and reheating it in a pan on your electric stove somehow replicates the diet of, I dunno, Australopithicus or something. It's ridiculous on its face.
But bizarre, unsubstantiated beliefs about nutrition and human evolution aside, how does this stuff work as a vegetable? Not very well, I thought.
It's wonderfully simple to prepare--just dump it in a saucepan and reheat for a few minutes. But I found the taste to be off. It simply didn't taste much like cauliflower to me--little flavor, and what there was had a slightly bitter hint to it. I eat a lot of cauliflower, both raw and cooked, and I think I could not have identified this as the same vegetable in a blind taste test. I have no convincing explanation for why this should be so--I mean, it is cauliflower, after all--but that was my impression.
Will I buy it again?
No. I see no point in it. When I want cauliflower, I can't think of a reason that I'd want it shredded instead of cut into larger pieces. When I want something grain-like, I'll have a grain. Why have cauliflower masquerade as rice when you can just have rice? But then again, unlike some people, I'm aware that I'm shopping at Trader Joe's, not Neanderthal Joe's.
So, I liked this stuff. I found the texture novel. I can imagine all sorts of fun uses for it—as a crust in a vegetable pie, blended with breadcrumbs and egg as a fritter, etc. It tastes EXACTLY like cauliflower to me, which I did not find surprising since it is in fact nothing but cauliflower. On its own it's pretty bland and boring, but I think with a little tarting up it could prove charming. I'm a fan of mixing up vegetable textures.
As for the whole paleo thing: I'm all in favor of diets that get people adequate nutrition while cutting down on processed ingredients, so if paleo does that for people and they are healthier as a result, well then YAY. But people get all crazy in the head over dietary things and probably have since paleolithic days. It's how the tribes separate themselves: THOSE PEOPLE eat THAT, but WE GOOD, FAMILIAR, HONEST, SAFE PEOPLE eat THIS. My guess is that a big selling point for religion has always been that it is an effective way of justifying your food practices—"God told us to eat THIS not THAT." The ongoing attempts people make to convert each other to their dietary point of view are positively evangelistic and missionary. The cray is strong in the food world.