The order of the universe in a vegetable

It may be December, but this farmhand is still hanging around Greenbranch, getting her fix of the good life on a weekly basis. Okay, killing chickens is probably way down there on the list of things that make up the good life part of farming, but it gives me a great chance to consult with the rest of the crew about everything a budding farmer needs to know. (More on that next week.)

Besides, I get first pick of the crops coming in. Like one of my all-time favorite vegetables, “Romanesco.”

Food posing as art. A quite everyday occurance, actually.

For the advanced molecular scientists, mathematicians, and physicists among you, yes, this is an extremely good example of a fractal formation.  In fact, the Romanesco is featured on a science-geek’s website under the page on “Fractal Food,” which has this to say about it:

“Fractal forms—complex shapes which look more or less the same at a wide variety of scale factors, are everywhere in nature….Nearly exact self-similar fractal forms occur do in nature, but I’d never seen such a beautiful and perfect example until, some time after moving to Switzerland, I came across a chou Romanesco like the one above in a grocery store. This is so visually stunning an object that on first encounter it’s hard to imagine you’re looking at a garden vegetable rather than an alien artefact created with molecular nanotechnology. But of course, then you realise that vegetables are created with molecular nanotechnology, albeit the product of earthly evolution, not extraterrestrial engineering.”

Just so you horticulturalists don’t feel left out, there’s something for you there as well:

“The French name, chou Romanesco literally translates to “Romanesco cabbage”, placing it in the cabbage family even though it doesn’t much resemble any cabbage you’ve ever seen. In German, it’s Pyramidenblumenkohl: “pyramid cauliflower”; in Italy, where it was first described in the sixteenth century, it’s called broccolo romanesco: “Romanesco broccoli”, but sometimes cavolo romanesco: “Romanesco cabbage”. Finally, in English it’s usually called “Romanesco broccoli”, but you’ll also see it referred to as “Romanesco cauliflower”. Even professional plant taxonomists can’t decide precisely where it belongs; some place it within the Italica group with broccoli, while others argue it belongs in the Botrytis group with cauliflower.”

Whatever. It’s delicious lightly steamed and topped with butter and fresh lemon juice, a little black pepper and salt.

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One Response to The order of the universe in a vegetable

  1. Reminds me of my discovery of the Cauliflower Fungus,
    also a fractal form I think,
    And good to eat. Love, DAD

    My poem for this week of 18 inches of snow in Sussex
    (which was mushy and slippery today!):

    Magic furry flakes keep coming down.

    A blanket of white over ground and town.

    Even great beauty can be a peril:

    The eye of a camel is narrow.

    Give up the mask, have the LOVING HEART of a clown.

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