A lot of high-end food rhetoric is very reactionary and backward looking, but culinary reality is of a progressive forward-thinking industry in which meaningful advances are made all the time. The delicious broccolini, for example, is just 20 years old. Meanwhile, one reason I suppose I’m not a huge broccoli fan is that it’s very difficult to actually obtain truly fresh broccoli. It’s grown in California where the climate is suitably cool, and by the time it’s shipped and delivered to East Coast stores it’s quite old.
But Mr. Bjorkman and a team of fellow researchers are out to change all that. They’ve created a new version of the plant that can thrive in hot, steamy summers like those in New York, South Carolina or Iowa, and that is easy and inexpensive enough to grow in large volumes.
And they didn’t stop there: This crucifer is also crisp, subtly sweet and utterly tender when eaten fresh-picked, which could lift the pedestrian broccoli into the ranks of the vegetable elite. Think Asian-style salads of shaved stems, Mr. Bjorkman suggests, or an ultra-crisp tempura with broccoli that doesn’t need parboiling.