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Broccolo (or bròcculo)means the flowering head of a cabbage in Italian, and is the singular for broccoli, which the Italians have been eating for 2000 years, although it didn't really make it into the English speaking world until the 20th century. Rumours that Albert Broccoli, the producer of the James Bond films, came from the family that developed the plant, are pure urban myth. In Italy, it's also a word for 'idiot'.

The amazing broccolo romano or romanesco, first noted in the 1500s, isn't the tastiest, but it's the best vegetable for observing fractals in nature. Each floret is made of smaller florets exactly like it. You can also use it to teach the kids about the Fibanocci series (sunflowers, pineapples and pine cones are good, too!)

Romanesco is related to Brocolo di Torbole in the Ark of Taste (both are Brassica oleracea botrytis), grown on the Trentino shore of Lake Garda. It's called a brocolo, although in English we'd call it (confusingly) a cauliflower, or cavalofior.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: Karen Booth, Fir0002, Creative Commons License