When visiting India a couple of years ago, an old high school friend offered an advice/warning: "avoid eating raw carrots because of reports of tapeworms."
Of course, I did not pay attention to the advice; when have I ever listened to anybody telling me what to do! ;) I kept devouring the carrot-tomato-onion-cilantro salad that my mother made practically every other day for me.
Now, with mother not her old self, I did a lot more household work than I usually do when visiting with the folks. One morning, I sat down at the table with a cutting board, a knife, and a large cauliflower head. A couple of cuts later, I jumped out of the chair freaked out by the sight of a large green worm. My father calmly walked over, guided the worm on to a cauliflower leaf, and took that out to the trash.
I got back to the chair and continued from where I left off. Now, I was intensely cautious. I didn't want to surprised with any more worms. I was ready for them. If there was one, surely there could be more.
And there were.
I jumped out of the chair. No, not because I was freaked out. But to grab my camera. After all, I knew then that this had to be blogged. I suppose there is that writer in me sensing that opportunity to write about. I am reminded of Roz Chast's comment that having a writer in the family is danger to the rest because sooner or later they will feature in the writings, and not always flatteringly ;)
So, I rushed to grab the camera, and hoping meanwhile that the worms--yes, more than one--hadn't crawled away. They were there, alright, as if waiting to strike a pose!
After clicking, I slowly removed the worms and tossed them away--didn't have to wait for father to do it.
In all these years of cooking cauliflower in the US, never have I seen worms. Dipping raw cauliflower pieces in hummus, or a dressing, before munching on them, I have never ever seen a worm.
"This is why we first soak the cauliflower in warm water and a little bit of salt" was the typical response from the women who were all too familiar with worms in such veggies. To them, it was not worth even talking about. It was like making a big deal out of the sun rising in the east. Not for me though.
When young, every once in a while we would find a small worm in the cooked rice. Yes, a dead worm--about the size of the rice grain itself, which is a good camouflage effect--in the cooked rice. Which would freak the life out of us kids. My grandmothers always calmly said, "keep that to the side and continue eating." Easier said than done!
I suppose this is one downside of eating "organic"--something that I am not fixated on. The cauliflower that I buy here is not anything that is certified organic, which means that there is always a fair chance that chemicals had been used to prevent the worm eggs in the first place. Thanks to those chemicals, the worms and I live in different worlds, and I am happy to keep them away ;)
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