The Yellow Magnolia Café is tucked into the Eastern side of the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, just near the complex of greenhouses that afford visitors glimpses of tropical orchids and cacti throughout the long New York winter. If you're just visiting the BBG, you might walk past thinking that it's the same fare that you could find in any other tourist-oriented New York institution: pricey bottled water, lackluster hot dogs, and various kinds of sweet things to ply discontented children.
Of all the ingredients in the kitchen, vegetable stock or broth is one that is generally unloved by the culinary world. You can't get the gelatinous goodness that's the mark of a great chicken stock from celery and carrots, and so much vegetable stock tastes like little more than very salty water. But I, like so many people, have loved ones who don't eat meat, or would rather not, and so no matter what reserves of great fresh chicken stock I have in my freezer, I so often find myself reaching for a box of ho-hum vegetable stock to use in soups, sauces, and giving grains some flavor.
"Can I interest you in some delicious duckweed?" doesn’t sound like a compelling pitch, but a company called Plantible Foods is hoping that the aquatic plant—also known by the somewhat more appealing name of its genus, Lemna—could help them crack the plant-based protein market.
It all started a few weeks ago when I unknowingly picked up the most magical product at the supermarket. I was digging through the tofu shelf in the produce department, and instead of reaching for my usual extra-firm tofu packed in water, I grabbed a tightly packed block of tofu labeled super firm. The tofu wasn’t packed in water like every other kind I had ever seen before, and the packaging read pre-pressed ready to cook. I shrugged it off and dropped it in my cart to use for dinner.