Today, it’s my pleasure to share my blog with my friend Adam The Unorthodox Epicure as he prepares Scallops Provencal. I hope you enjoy his post and his story.
I’ll never forget one of my first restaurant experiences after moving to New Jersey in the mid-90s. It was a swanky place on the Barnegat Bay with more fresh seafood — one of my favorite indulgences — on the menu than I could shake a stick at.
After much internal debate, I ended up going against my own grain and ordered a chicken dish. Perhaps my decision was based on the excellent menu description (I’m a sucker for things like that). But it was more likely because it was called Chicken Broccoli Raab.
Who was this Raab guy? And what made his chicken and broccoli dish so special that a fine restaurant would reserve prime space for it on their menu?
And then I learned.
“Ma’am?” I called to our server, after taking an unexpectedly bitter bite of the flimsy broccoli look-alike.
“Yes? May I help you?”
“I hope so,” I responded. “This broccoli is bad. I think it might have spoiled. It’s beginning to ferment.”
“Really? I’m so sorry,” she said. “We’ve been serving it all night and no one else has brought that to my attention.”
“I hate to send it back, but it’s the most bitter broccoli I’ve ever had,” I politely interjected. “I’m surprised no one has noticed.”
“Oh,” she said. “Well, Sir, it is Broccoli Raab.”
“I know,” I responded. “And it’s bitter.”
I realized two things that evening, with the first thud to my brain happening after I arrived back home and looked up Broccoli Raab — or Broccoli Rabe, as it’s occasionally spelled. (For those of you who don’t know, Broccoli Raab is only a marketing name. This bitter green looks sort of like broccoli, but is a member of the Turnip family. Broccoli, meanwhile, resides in the Cabbage family. Go figure.)
My second realization is that I should have gone with my gut … and ordered the much milder Scallops Provencal.