"Cabbage with a college education"
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(Brassica oleracea, Botrytis group)
Cauliflower is native to the Mediterranean and Middle East region and has been cultivated from at least 600 BC. It moved to England from Cyprus and was therefore known as Cyprus coleworts.
Mark Twain said that cauliflower was "cabbage with a college education," and, indeed, it is a member of the cabbage family.
The cauliflower head itself is a degenerate, sterile flowering structure whose buds are kept white by carefully covering them to prevent the formation of chlorophyll that sunlight would cause. Those "gourmet" green heads you see in fancy supermarkets? The product of lazy gardeners. Purple and green varieties, however, are especially popular in Italy.