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Letโ€™s raise the flag for broccoli, a harmless plant in troubled times. Brassica oleracea, Cymosa group, is easy to identify in the market, but botanically almost indistinguishable from cauliflower. Common sense suggests that it was first cultivated in Italy as a hybrid of cauliflower some time in the modern period, since references to it do not appear in writing before the eighteenth century. The flowerets can be eaten raw and dipped in mayonnaise, as they are at thousands of cocktail receptions every year, offering a green contrast to the cauliflowerets on the same buffet. At the dinner table, they mostly appear steamed, with hollandaise sauce if the cook is ambitious. Soup is the way to go if the great broccolophobic Bush the first is coming to dinner. The other guests will love it, too, and the ex-president wonโ€™t know what heโ€™s eating.

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