San Diego’s cauliflower luck

Thanks, but you are talking about anise. It grows like a weed everywhere in San Diego. Fennel is in the same family (Apiaceae) but is a different genus and has an edible bulb-shaped lower stalk. Fennel is Foeniculum vulgare. Anise is Pimpinella anisum. The two plants look somewhat alike. Their finely leafed above-ground stalks have leaves that look alike (sort of like dill), and they smell alike (like licorice). But only fennel has the edible bulbous enlarged stalk, right at ground level. Both plants' seeds are used in for cooking and teas, with fennel seeds being the best for cookies. In some grocery stores, some Hispanic workers incorrectly call the fennel bulb "anise." Wrong! That happened last night at the Pancho Villa store on El Cajon Blvd. The label in the produce section said "fennel- $1.99/lb" but the cashier rang it up as "anise." By the way, there was only one fennel bulb for sale there! I found it at Pancho's after checking the North Park Farmer's Market, where none of the growers had fennel, knew nothing about it, and one man representing one farm didn't even know what it was. Go figure! The plant has been around and used for food since biblical days and later (Pliny the Elder wrote about it extensively). The Italian word for fennel is "finocchio." Buona Forcetta has a delicious salad with sauteed finocchio. Here's an article describing the intro of fennel, in 1993, to US produce markets: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/NewCropsNews/93... The NP Farmers' Mkt had tons of cauliflower, ridiculously priced.
— January 15, 2016 8:35 a.m.

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