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Romanesco – A Math Lover’s Vegetable

Behold the lovely Romanesco: This broccoli-related floret is the perfect spring shade of green and gold, and it winds around in seemingly endless patterns of perfect spirals. A part of the brassica family that was first grown in Italy, it’s also known as Roman cauliflower.

head of romanesco

Why are math lovers fascinated with Romanesco? Each bud consists of a smaller series of buds, all arranged in the same even spiral pattern, going on and on seemingly to infinity. It’s a logarithmic spiral that shows a perfect geometrical progression.

romanesco floret

The Romanesco also gives us a perfect example of the Fibonacci sequence in nature (where the next number in the sequence is always the sum of the previous two numbers; i.e. 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, etc.). If you count the spirals in one direction, and then in the other direction, the totals will always be consecutive Fibonacci numbers. Confused? Check out this whole page explaining Fibonacci numbers found throughout nature.

romanesco fractals

Now if your head is spinning and you feel like you don’t really care about the numbers and just want to eat some Romanesco, that’s a good choice too. The florets are tender and even slightly sweet, and they’re naturally high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, fiber, and carotenoids.

To cook Romanesco, break off the florets and steam them or blanch them, then shock them in cold water to preserve the bright color. Then serve as finger food or add to pasta, quinoa, salads, or soups – basically, do with them whatever you would do with steamed broccoli. Shameless plug: We recommend serving it with homemade Kefir Ranch Dressing.

romanesco snack

Will your kids eat it? Maybe/probably? It’s a little milder and a lot less broccoli-ish than broccoli. And even if your picky eaters don’t chomp them down right away, they’ll be distracted by counting the spirals. Who knows, they might even decide that the numbers add up to something good to eat.

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Romanesco: The vegetable that’s beautiful to look at, lovely to eat, and mathematically fascinating.

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Romanesco broccoli - the math lover's vegetable.

Romanesco broccoli – the math lover’s vegetable.

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6 Responses to Romanesco – A Math Lover’s Vegetable

  1. Valentina March 8, 2016 at 12:42 pm #

    GORGEOUS photographs! I’ve always been intrigued by this unique vegetable. And yes, my head is spinning. 😉

    • Jeanne March 8, 2016 at 2:24 pm #

      LOL – Thanks, Valentina! That means a lot coming from you! : )

  2. Dorothy at Shockingly Delicious March 11, 2016 at 10:01 am #

    I could have sworn I wrote about Fibonacci numbers on my blog, but I can’t rouse a post with that in it. Maybe I just dreamed it…. Wonderful article about a vegetable that is a piece of art!

    • Jeanne March 11, 2016 at 9:30 pm #

      LOL – I like the idea of you dreaming about Fibonacci numbers! Thanks for dropping by, Dorothy!

  3. Trish March 23, 2016 at 9:06 am #

    Oh this is so fun! Although, I think if I share this info with my little engineer he will spend more time picking this apart to see how it works than actually eating….

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