Friday, October 7, 2011

George Bush and the Politics of Broccoli

At an outdoor press conference in 1990, President George Bush told reporters, "I do not like broccoli and I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it and I'm President of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli."

Needless to say, broccoli growers got a little “steamed” by the president’s comment. Within a week, broccoli growers in California had shipped ten thousand pounds of the flowery, green vegetable to the White House where it was donated to a local food bank to help feed the needy.

Ten years later, in February of 2001, President George W. Bush proved that "blood is thicker than diplomacy" at a news conference during a visit with Mexico's newly elected president Vicente Fox, whose family owns a large broccoli farm in Mexico. According to a news report, President Bush was asked by a reporter for his opinion of broccoli. After briefly hesitatating, he reportedly flashed a "thumb's down" sign and said, "Make it cauliflower."

So 41 and 43 are clearly not fond of broccoli, but if they try this simple and simply delicious recipe for Parmesan Roasted Broccoli from Ina Garten they might just change their minds!

4 to 5 pounds broccoli
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves (about 12 leaves)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart. You should have about 8 cups of florets.

Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 5 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned. Remove broccoli from the oven and immediately toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan, and basil. Serve hot and enjoy!

Credit: Oil Portrait of George Herbert Walker Bush by Herbert Abrams, White House Historical Assocation (White House Collection)

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