Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera, also called cavoletto di Bruxelles.
The plural form, which is almost always used, is cavolini and cavoletti, respectively.
I was 22 years old and living in Milan the first time I ate cavolini di Bruxelles alla parmigiana at a friend's house, steamed and lightly seasoned with butter and parmigiano. I liked them then and still do. I am aware that in this country they get mixed reviews. I believe the trick is to offset their soft nature (when steamed) with something crunchy, like toasted hazelnuts or almonds, or to enhance their flavor with cheese (like, for example in cavolini gratinati, gratin).
Cavolino means small cavolo and there are many kinds of cavoli, which I will describe in future posts. Recently I learned that, besides the well-known green variety, there is also a purple variety: I don't know yet what these cavolini taste like, but the plant is lovely, as you can see here and here (two photos from our community garden).
The English expression 'mind your own business' has a literal translation in the Italian fatti gli affari tuoi. However, going down the path of increasing rudeness, the next stop is fatti i cavoletti tuoi. This is an expression I used a lot as a child when quarreling with my brother. It is actually a euphemism for a much ruder expression, which belongs to the category of definite no-nos.
This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, a food blogging event started by Kalyn's Kitchen, hosted this week by Mele Cotte, a lovely Italian name which I am including in my audio snippet. Here's the roundup of WHB #90.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the cavolino di Bruxelles audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]
Hmm... I've never really liked Brussel sprouts, but maybe it's because I've never had them as you described --steamed and lightly seasoned with butter and parmigiano -- or with hazelnuts or almonds. I like the sound of that. ;-)
Posted by: Paz | July 07, 2007 at 06:29 PM
Hmm, the idea of brussels sprouts with parmesan sounds really good to me too. I've also heard they are wonderful if you cut the ends off the sprouts, toss with some olive oil and roast them until they're just starting to get crispy. I haven't tried it yet, but I plan to. I'm not a brussels sprouts hater, but not really a lover either, but I think either of these recipes would appeal to me.
Posted by: Kalyn | July 08, 2007 at 12:40 PM
I am a lover of brussel sprouts~fix them any way, I am in heaven.i love them roasted,splashed with olive oil,sprinkled with sea salt and tossed with balsamic vinegar.
Posted by: Jann | July 08, 2007 at 01:35 PM
I think that cooking Brussels sprouts until they are tender but not too soft is a key element, whichever the cooking method, then adding the seasoning of choice. I can't wait to try different recipes on the ones that hopefully will grow in my garden.
Posted by: Simona Carini | July 10, 2007 at 02:36 PM