From Kathleen Purvis’ blog I’ll Bite, at obsbite.blogspot.com:
I love word origins, the ways odd words turn out to have logical connections. That's how I ended up digging around in dictionaries, looking for the word “cruciferous.” It should have occurred to me years ago to wonder why so many fall vegetables share an origin with the word “crucifer,” or cross.
Those vegetables are all members of the family Brassicaceae, which is another name for Cruciferae. And cruciferae is a Latin word that means “cross-bearing.” The vegetables don't carry crosses, but their flowers all have four petals and look like crosses. That includes the mustard and cabbage family, including cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
That’s particularly interesting in the case of cruciferous-vegetable haters, who act like all of those vegetables are their personal crosses to bear. I share my life and my meals with one. He dreads fall vegetables as much as I love them, especially when I start bringing things like Brussels sprouts back into our kitchen.
Don't be so cross, dear. That also means I look for ways to make even you like Brussels sprouts.
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