Harry Crews once told me that when he writes, “I want to get as naked as I possibly can, to strip my mind, my emotional stuff, whatever I work out of, and say, Here it is, ladies and gentlmen, this is all I’m bringing.”
I love that attitude. I try to be naked, too, to be honest in the midst of artifice. I strive to bring nakedness to every aspect of my life. I can usually manage it in the kitchen. So in honor of the titanic Harry Crews, here’s naked broccoli:
Take one lovely green head of broccoli. Rinse off invisible nasties. Cut into florets, keeping as much stem as you can stand. That’s where the phytonutrients are. Tossing out the broccoli bottom wastes resources and cheat you out of the best nutritional bits. Steamed, the woody stems turn tender and great tasteing — like asparagus. Chop them into bits and you’ve got bonus broccoli.
Do you want to be plunged into boiling water? Neither does broccoli. Steaming preserves the nutrients in produce, too, so invest in a covered steamer or double boiler. Place veggies in the put above — the one with the holes — water in the pot below. Cover, bring to a boil, and steam for 6 minutes (or if you’re a microwaver, give it about 3 minutes), then peek inside and check on your broccoli’s progress. It should smell vegetal and rich and be glowingly green. You want stems that snap, not bend. Give it another minute or two if necessary, then rinse in cold water or toss in a handful of ice. like other vegetables, broccoli retains heat and will continue cooking until you bring down its temperature.
Stop and admire. You have just made broccoli and it is beautiful. Take off your clothes and do a little broccoli dance. Now go read Crews’ amazing autobiography A Childhood, The Biography of a Place (1978).
Tomorrow’s menu — poetry, porn, Jamaican vegetable stew and if the photo gods are kind, a decent picture.