I have loved you from the start when I poked your
tiny seeds into the special soil mix and lavished care
upon their sprouting and when I transplanted you
into rich beds with the pride of an unschooled mother
attending her first child’s graduation from college.
But, beloved brassica, I love you most once you are
harvested, prepared and plated in the consummation
of a hungry gardener and her favorite vegetable.
Once you were boiled to death, your delicate scent
overcome by indoles and isothiocynates. Only the
French knew to puree or gratin your bridal purity.
Then you were cut up with carrots and broccoli
into crudités, plunged into gelatinous dips,
in the name of good health. Always, though,
there was someone who loved your sweet
nutty flavor and could make you into a warming
soup kissed with nutmeg, slip you into curries
with black mustard seeds and fragrant spices.
‘Call me your petit chou fleur and I am likely to leap
national borders and melt into a welcoming bagna cauda.’
‘Come, and dip your perfect snowy florets
into the oily ocean of my love.
Your soldierly carrot sticks will forsake their posts
when they taste my salty tang. Endives will eschew
couture and wear only my buttery sheen.
Humble boiled potatoes will sing out for champagne
to wash down the anchovies and garlic, but it is
the cauliflower that most beautifully lowers itself
into my warm bath, adorned only with a sprig
of parsley tucked in its crown.’
Now with the earthy beet you have become a rock star
and every review-seeking chef courts you with glamour
and fame. They fry you and melt you with goat cheese
and caraway mustard on artisanal rye. They dress you
with baubles of fried Thai basil leaves in east meets west
or roast you till you gleam with alchemical gold.
They braise you in exotic alcoholic hazes
till you swoon with surrender.
They have blown up the world, and all the jewels
of your royal crown settle to plate
in new and wondrous settings.