A few days ago I cooked some broccoli that I had bought at the supermarket. In American English, we pronounce that [BROCK-uh-lee], or sometimes in two syllables as [BROCK-lee]. I noticed recently that some speakers of English (not American) might pronounce it as [BROCK-uh-LYE].
In English, it's "broccoli" with two Cs. In French, it's brocoli with one C. That's confusing, at least to me. And in French it's often used in the plural, with an S: ce sont des brocolis.
I remember back in the 1970s, when I lived in Paris and Normandy, that there was no broccoli available at all. I missed it. I guess I started cooking and eating broccoli when I was in college and grad school, because I don't think we ate it at home in North Carolina when I was growing up. We ate turnip, mustard, and collard greens instead. And cabbage of course.
The only broccoli-like vegetable I could ever find in Paris all those years ago was broccoli rabe, which is not really the same thing. It was sold by Portuguese vendors in the farmers' markets, and I read now that rabe is much prized in Portugal and Galicia (northwestern Spain) as well as in Italy. It's called brocoli-rave in French but I never see it here in the Loire Valley. It's much used in China too and some call it Chinese turnip or Chinese cabbage. It's more bitter than the other broccoli, I think. It's good sauteed with garlic, apparently.
One French web site I've found says that broccoli was not much consumed in France until about 20 years ago, which would confirm my souvenir of the situation. A few years ago, I mentioned to an old French friend — a good home cook that I learned a lot from — that there was no broccoli in the markets in France back in the 1970s, but she was surprised and said she didn't really remember. I only remember because I remember missing it.
The Larousse Gastronomique food and cooking encyclopedia mentions broccoli, which it calls chou brocoli or "broccoli cabbage," but the author gives no recipes or cooking instructions. All it says is that you substitute broccoli in any recipe that calls for cauliflower. Cauliflower is abundant, delicious, and inexpensive in France. A lot of it is grown in Brittany, where the climate is mild and damp.
None of my other favorite old French cookbooks has any recipes for brocoli or even a mention of it, with one exception. Tante Marie, whose book La Véritable Cuisine de famille dates back to the 1920, does refer to « brocolis », calling it « choux d'Italie » (Italian cabbage), as a sort of afterthought appended to her collection of cauliflower recipes. She says to cook it in boiling water and serve it with a white sauce.
By the way, we had broccoli with the steak and kidney pudding that Susan and Simon of Days on the Claise brought over for lunch a few days ago. The steak and kidney pudding was very good, I thought, with it's suet "crust" — Susan described the dish as a big steamed dumpling filled with chunks of steak and beef kidney. Broccoli was good with it. I wish I had taken a picture.
And again by the way, I've now used up 98% of my photo allowance on Blogger. I have to figure out how to get more space on the server so I can continue posting pictures. I figure you probably know what broccoli looks like...