Why does Cauliflower taste like something?

A part of my year here in Germany (a large part, as it turns out) is going to be spent investigating things that I can’t immediately explain.  I am hoping I discover some things this year about how Germany does things that can inform how we can do things BETTER in America.  This has been my assumption from day one, what better reason to go to a differnet country for a year, than to see how their culture, science, policy, discourse, etc. compares to ours?  What I had not appropriately considered is that…there will be no easy answers.  There will be lots of observations and questions, but putting answers to those questions and meaning to those observations will require a lot of research…which can’t even really begin until I know the language well enough to have in depth conversations with people who understand these things.  So, first in the case files, first in the category of “Things that I need to find out more about because this bothers me on some level,” is:

Why does cauliflower have a taste in Germany?   We had cauliflower at Inka’s father’s place for dinner one night, and it was delicious.  This was astonishing to me because when I think of cauliflower, I assume that it tastes like…Ranch dressing or nacho cheese, or whatever dip you are serving with tasteless vegetables.  And it was when I had this dish that I realized, this is kind of common in Germany.  Often, things that I assume have no taste, or have no discernable taste, HERE, they do.  Here, tomatoes taste like something, carrots taste like something, sweet corn is actually sweet.  It’s incredible.  it turns out, I love the taste of vegetables.  And now that I think about it, if you had asked me before if I liked vegetables I would have said no, but not because I didn’t like the taste; but because they didn’t taste like anything.

Across the board, the food here is far more fresh and tasty.  Obviously there is no simple or pithy reason for ALL food tasting better in Germany than it does in America.  But it is something I would like to know more about.  We went to the ocean and I enjoyed fish broetchen (fish sandwich) for the first time in my life.

This was fresh and delicious.  And I assume the reason for that–the fish probably DID go from the sea, to the fryer, to my mouth–is kind of the same reason that cauliflower tastes like something.  I assume that Germany has a higher quality way of doing agriculture than we do in America.

Take, for example, Exibit C: Schweinshaxe!  “Pig Leg!”  It was delicious.  It was so delicious.  And it occurred to me a couple weeks ago that I mainly have pig-related foods.  Pig would be the main meat in Germany, then chicken, and beef is at the bottom of the list.  I heard a report on NPR before I left America that said there are literally millions of wild pigs in Germany.  So, as opposed to cattle farms in America, which is where a lot of my meat comes from in America, where they are doing terrible things to make the cattle produce as much money as possible, here the majority of the meat I am eating comes from WILD animals.  I think.  This could be totally false.  And, even if it’s not, I’m sure there are farmed animals in the mix as well, but I am also sure that they are taken care of…differently…if not better than in the US.  You can literally taste the difference.

So what is in our food?  What is not in our food?  Where does it come from and what is the process that goes into making it?  Let the investigation begin!


3 thoughts on “Why does Cauliflower taste like something?

  1. Now Brian, this I might actually know something about – one thing is genetic engineering – which obvisouly all farming engages in on soem leve through breeding and artifical selection yes, but which we do on a sort of weirdly deep level on our vegetables in america, does not happen in europe as much or maybe at all, like there are many things approved by the FDA that cannot be consumed in Europe. Well since we are hybridizifn adn engineering agreesively for more adn bigger, we loosesome other genes, and I guess, according to mom, they seem to be directly related to tase – and probably (thinking of microbiology yet again) this has to do with sugar productions and other secondary products of these natural metabolic processes in our vegetable polants falling to the wayside for increased size…mom saiys strawberries here taste like nothingand that they used to taset like kiwi does now! Plus, after gardening I would say the freshness thing is huge, our garden foods are soooo much better, and your wild food hypthesis is very sound as far as taste althoug are there professional hunters there or what? How would you gte all that meet? Oh oh and (also via gardening) I have read and tasted that in season stuff tastes better than forced foods, so watch as the seasons change and see if it holds true (I really dont think it should if you are all northern like germanny and get good and green house growing…)hmmmm I really want to taste cauliflower!!!!!!hey we dug our first ptatoes the other day!! and while mom and dad were here we harvested the biggest carrot ever!!love you and feel slightly bad for the little Piglets on your plate, even if they look delicious! mmmmmm bacon

    • I know, I feel slightly bad about the piggies as well. But thanks for the info, it matches with the kind of things I was thinking, and that’s always nice. 🙂 And yes, there are professional hunters. I don’t know if you looked at the NPR report I was referencing, but part of that report was saying that pigs in the south are radioactive(!) sometimes because mushrooms in the south absorb fallout from Chernobyl and then the pigs eat the mushrooms and they become radioactive. So there’s a whole screening process that hunters have to put their meat through before they sell it, and the government has been subsidizing the income for hunters in the south because so much of their meat is unedable…unedible…you can’t eat it. AND, there’s very much seasonal fruits and veg around here. I don’t know what happens in the winter when nothing can be grown here because of the cold, but right now is harvest time, so there’s tons of fresh stuff coming out, and when I first arrived we were eating lots of melon, and now we’re eating more apples. There’s a huge bio/buy local movement around here, not all fringy and hippy like it is in the states, here it’s just the thing you do–like recycling–if you can afford it. Fascinating, eh?

      • pobrecito piggies, if the hunters dont get them the fallout does! but taht is very cool taht tehre still are professional hunters! That does seem way better and more fair than slaughter houses, for the piggies, I mean the whiley ones have a chance to escape afterall (maybe they eat the mushrooms on purpose! clever piggies!) I am studying again, hehehe

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