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Tuesday, March 23, 2010




A new vegetable - and not a train - has just hit the Japanese market. Known in English as Romanesco broccoli, it is called the Eurostar in Japan.

It's weird, too-perfect fractal makeup caught my eye at a supermarket in Tokyo's Ueno district yesterday, as did it's quirky name - no doubt meant to denote its European origins and its radiating structure.

Although from Europe originally, the Eurostar is home-grown in Japan, in Saitama prefecture, next to, and north-west of, Tokyo. (The red characters at the top-left of the label in the foreground say "Saitama prefecture.")

At 480 yen (about USD4.60/GBP2.90) a head, this would not usually find itself in my shopping basket, but curiosity got the better of me. Vendors are obviously cashing in on its novelty value here in Japan.

Verdict? A slightly sweeter version of normal broccoli; a halfway house, perhaps, between broccoli and cauliflower. And, sure enough, the top left of the white label seen on each item of produce in the photo has the much less highfalutin "Cauliflower" (in katakana) on it.

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