Mind Your Cauliflower
Cauliflower has a bad rap for tasting like a watery, bland fart, but I experienced the Anna Wintour of this cruciferous vegetable prepared by Dizengoff at a food expo that I recently attended. It was sweet and savory on the tongue with a light oily finish that still makes me salivate in memory.
After taking a plate of seconds, I quizzed the two prep chefs working the line as to what its assembly entailed. The younger of the two told me that the florets were simply roasted olive oil and harissa, topped with smelt, and garnished with basil. It wasn’t brain surgery, yet I watched as they returned to preparing tasting plate after tasting plate, hovering inches above their canvases with chopsticks in hand to angle the cauliflower so that it would best frame its garnishes while still peeking through as a confident base. It was as if the rest of the venue didn’t exist so long as another perfect portion needed to be replenished, even if a displaced flick of basil would go unnoticed by a patron washed up from the open bar.
This unparalleled artistic integrity is that which is absent in contemporary, mainstream culture. It’s DJ Khaled’s caress of his flowers before its exploitation on Snapchat. It’s Graduation-era Kanye West, who lacked the luxury of reworking an album after its publishing. In this right, intention is a word that might as well be classified as extinct in the age of the millennial, where forethought is an afterthought and immediacy is king. We spend more time selecting a filter to doctor mediocre snapshots of minutia than we do choosing our words in a conversation that likely never required our participation in the first place. We lack the chef’s mise en place, the preparation that sees that the integrity of an idea exists from the cutting board through to the last bite.
Look at it this way. Imagine that you order a medium-rare filet mignon and, just as you’re about to dig in, the server returns to the table to bring it back to the kitchen.
“Was there something wrong?” you’d inquire.
“No,” the server would reply. “The chef just decided that it wasn’t rare enough as soon as he sent it out.”
I witnessed my own incompetency in this vein only moments prior when I sampled an Indian-inspired street food staple — a delicate, hollow semolina ball filled with a sweet and spicy yogurt condiment. As the chef injected my ball to order, he instructed adamantly, “Eat it all in one bite!”
I phoned it in, and goo exploded all over my face.
The culinarian had no sympathy for my plight. “I told you to eat it all at once,” he reiterated, laughing, as I cleaned my pie hole with a cocktail napkin. “Next time, trust a chef when they give you directions.”
Though I might have left that evening rather humbled with date purée encrusted on the corner of my mouth, my pockets were full of fruits that were plucked from a kitchen brain, which were sweeter than stolen pieces of Salted Honey pie.
Prepare, mind your cauliflower, and don’t pity the fool who can’t wrap their mouth around the enormity that you are serving.
Analyze & Discuss:
Which other vegetables remind you of a watery fart?