Alžběta Skálová, Jiří Dvořák / Strange truths and fables of the green world


This book is for all children who want more than a simple explanation and they often ask their parents: Why? Why are there ants on an acacia tree, why does nettle stings, why do onions makes eyes tear? Why do flowers need roots in the ground? What was the first plant in the world. Who grew the first tangerine without pits? And is it true that the most expensive coffee in the world is pooped out by a civet? It is also a book which can be used by teachers when their pupils are bored during biology lessons: nature is full of little adventures and suspenseful stories, puzzles and unbelievable secrets. At the same time it is a family book: for little children, a puzzle or a rhyme may be enough, the bigger ones will read a story with a happy ending, and adults will be amazed at how much of all of this they had no idea about.


Demonstration of the text in english:


Do you know what kohlrabi, broccoli and a Brussels sprout have in common? Well, the answer is: the same as a chow chow, a sharpei and a wolfhound. You’ve got it. They have a common ancestor. That is, the vegetables have one common ancestor, of course, and the doggies have another.

The great-grandmother of all the leafy greens is the brassica, which, with its rather unimposing splay of leaves and its cross-shaped yellow blooms, grows – and has indeed long grown – around the Mediterranean sea. It took a good few thousand years – and doubtedless a good many rusty watering cans in the process – to give rise to all those offspring of hers that we know today. Now, this certainly didn’t happen of its own accord – in fact, no one knows exactly how it happened – but it just might have been like this.


One morning Giuseppe the Gardener – Pino, they used to call him – was walking in his garden and noticed a new splodge of something green among the white cauliflower heads. At first it occurred to him to pull it up – could it perhaps be the Common Frog-eater? – but then he changed his mind and said it was a shame to throw away a morsel that might be eaten, even if he would have to eat it with his eyes closed. And that morsel was actually very good. Crisp and crunchy, but at the same time as delicately flavoured as a freshly cracked nut.


And so that deep-green mistake of a plant, instead of landing on the compost heap, was left there to bloom, and when it had gone to seed Pino took the seeds and sowed them in the patch by the fence at the back of the garden. And in time he had a whole hotchpotch of things growing there. In one corner he had cauliflowers as white as snow, in another some rather confused cabbages, in another there were clumps of crumpled-up leaves with green-tinged caulis here and there among them. Out of all these things Pino chose the ones that tasted best and sowed seeds from them. And that’s how it went on. Pino walked around his garden, tasted, selected, discarded. Occasionally frost or a drought would help him decide what ought to go. And then years later – or rather decades later – Pino ended up with a patch full of short-trimmed, curly-haired heads all dyed deep green. And he called them broccoli.


And just as Pino himself had hardly been the first, still other gardeners came long after him and they had a go at it, too. And that’s how cabbages, kale and kohlrabi came into the world. Yes, and Brussels sprouts. And they are all the little great-grandchildren of one old great-grandmother.


The dog-breeders went about things in a pretty similar way. Except for the tasting bit, I should hope.


And where did Great-Grandma Brassica disappear to? Nowhere. She’s still here, preserved inside all those little leafy great-grandchildren of hers. Which isn’t a poor attempt at being poetic. It’s the truth – as sure as a spade’s a spade. If you’d like to meet her one day, find a greenhouse and sow cabbage seeds in it, and broccoli seeds, and kohlrabi seeds, and the seeds of all the leaf vegetables you know, and leave them to grow and cross-pollinate in peace for a few years. And then one day... Nestling in among all the other familiar vegetables, there’s a plant with a rather unimposing splay of leaves and with cross-shaped yellow blooms. The great-grandmother that’s been hiding away inside her grandchildren all these hundreds of years. The brassica

235x214 | 72 pages | 2012 | Baohemia | pdf

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