Narsai David is the KCBS Food and Wine Editor. He has been a successful restaurateur, chef, TV host, and columnist in the Bay Area spanning four decades. You can hear him Saturdays at 10:53am, 12:53pm and 4:53pm, and at 2:53am Sunday on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.
KCBS Food & Wine Editor Narsai David:
(KCBS) – Recently, I saw a menu item in a restaurant called “heirloom cauliflower” and I chuckled to myself, what do they mean by ‘heirloom’?
Looking on the shelf, I saw all sorts of different colored cauliflowers and I just presumed that they were just the product of some kind of genetic manipulation. How in the world can that be heirloom? I thought.
But after doing a little research, I was surprised—it’s absolutely heirloom; there are so many vegetables out there, in the wild and historically grown, that are unused.
It seems quite strange that humankind has always wanted something that is whiter in color; perhaps under the assumption that it was more pure, I’m not too sure. But, by golly, those orange, purple, and green cauliflowers are legitimately old heirloom varieties.
The first really deep-colored vegetable—that was new to us— that came to market was the Peruvian purple potato. It’s interesting that scientists discovered that more color there is a vegetable, the better is for you. They have antioxidants, and other good stuff that only scientists can easily identify; so don’t be afraid to try some of these new, odd-colored vegetables.
A watermelon radish, if sliced correctly, looks like a miniature slice of the eponymous fruit. Purple carrots and string beans? I’ve tried them both and they are wonderful.