I know that the French have a reputation for wonderful cuisine: healthy, delicious, a people who truly care about their food and take time to prepare and then eat it. They don't hesitate at this time of year to go out into the woods and pick as much fungi as possible which is then turned into the most delicious je ne sais quoi a la fungi. However, I bet even they haven't tried this one...and to be honest I hope I don't ever again.
A while back I planted some broccoli plants, together with some cauliflowers and some red cabbage. More new vegetables for our plot although most people have been planting them for years. A week ago I decided the first broccoli was ready for eating but as Max was away I didn't cut it until Thursday. I bought it in and broccoli cheese was instantly on the menu.
Things started to go wrong when I cut it up. I've been very careful about picking off caterpillars. The first time I realised the leaves of the broccoli were being eaten I picked off nearly 100 rather beautiful multi-coloured caterpillars and gave them to the chickens - who weren't interested.
After that I realised a bit of method was required and picked caterpillars every two days. The multi-coloured ones have gone and I am collecting little green ones - the result of the Cabbage White butterfly I presume. I include the caulis in my caterpillar-harvest and thought I was doing quite well. But on Thursday evening as I cut up the broccoli a couple of small green devils dropped out. I picked over the broccoli fairly thoroughly and more fell out. I cut it smaller, to make the flowerlets easier to pick over, and yet more fell out. I had about 12 by the end of all this picking over but I was also fairly confident that I had done a thorough job.
Cooking revealed three more. They float up to the top and are easy to pick out. Not something I really wanted to know to be honest.
As I prepared the cheese sauce I went through the broccoli again - just to be safe - and there were no more. Excellent and no need to mention any of this to Max.
The Broccoli Cheese was delicious. Just right for a mid-week supper. We were thrilled with our first broccoli. We were looking forward to the second one in fact which needs cutting this weekend probably. And then the crunch came. Literally.
Did you know that the caterpillar of Cabbage White Butterflies are crunchy when they've been boiled for five minutes? Did you also know that they are very bitter? And finally, that biting one rather puts you off the rest of your supper?
It's too late for this year of course but some insect netting will be on my list to Father Christmas!