Thursday, August 27, 2009

Camouflage broccoli is not your friend

No new recipes attempted today. 3 hours spent doing errands and appointments after work, then home to eat and put out fires, figuratively speaking. Too exhausted to attempt culinary wonders. Settled for horrifically processed and preserved food which I won't define any more specifically due to fear of excessive criticism of my eating habits.

Thought instead of a recipe I could pass along some sage words about camouflage broccoli and my experiences with it to save you, the reader, from enduring same. Trust me when I say "You don't want to go there...".

What is camouflage broccoli exactly? Well, I'm glad you asked. It's a term I made up a few years ago, the first time I made this mistake.

CAMOUFLAGE BROCCOLI: broccoli that has lost some (or all) of the deep green colour it normally has, becoming yellowed and pale green ("camouflage pattern") in the process, probably also wiggles and bends a little more than it should. NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.

I grew up in the RRR (reduce, reuse, recycle) house long before those things were cool. We've also composted for years, both at the cottage and at home. We weren't the rich family on the block and my mom doesn't like to waste things. I inherited those habits too. So when I found some broccoli at the back of my fridge one day and noticed that it had some pale green areas, along with some yellow-ish areas, I didn't think too much of it.

Easy to look back and say now "Don't eat that!" but I'm a slow learner. Therefore, when I found the broccoli and was in dire straights for something to eat other than spaghetti for the 4th day in a row, I figured, "Yeah, it's not perfect but I'll cook it lots to kill any bad stuff". Famous last words, almost.

So I steamed the hell out of it, cut up into bite-sized pieces and everything. Don't know what else I ate with it, probably some grated cheese melted on top, it was a long time ago. A few hours later, I started getting stomach cramps, not the girl-time-of-the-month ones, but the bad-gas-inside-me-REALLY-wants-out-now! kind. Trust me, you'll know when you get these ones. My stomach hurt and the air around me was pretty aromatic. And it went on and on and on.... At one point, I started wondering if the paint on the walls and the carpet on the floor would survive the experience intact because I was wishing I'd brought home face masks from work while convinced I was going to die. Thank goodness I lived alone!

Anyway, I survived that night but it wasn't fun. Nothing to blame but the camouflage broccoli. Fast forward a few years to find me digging broccoli out of the fridge again, noting the colourful pattern on top of it. "That was years ago and it won't happen again. I just didn't cook it long enough", I said to myself. I'm such an idiot! Another night of agony, GI revolt, and flatulence from hell. Too embarrassed to admit I'd done myself in again, I suffered alone but not silently. Boy, did I get a lecture or 6 from my mother and other food-poisoning-savvy people when they discovered the reason I'd gone underground suddenly.

Moral of the story: if your broccoli is no longer uniformly dark green and bends/wiggles at ALL, chuck it in your green bin or compost if you've got one. Otherwise, to the garbage it goes. If you're tempted to pitch it out for some animal to eat, don't get upset if you see dead critters out there the next day. I was nearly one of them, twice.


  1. YOU CRACK ME UP!!! Thanks for sharing your experience. I will be on the look-out for camouflage broccoli seeing as our mothers must have been sharing notes on that "don't waste a thing" concept. I too try to use things that really shouldn't be used and often tell myself "it only tastes a little funny...") My mother won't even put a serving spoon in the dishwasher before it has been licked clean!! :) gemma

  2. I'm so pleased to find someone else I know who is "risky" in the kitchen! Hooray for us :)