Most vegetables are not vegetables

Steve Cook, who does somethingorother in the Biology department at the Imperial College of London wants you to know exactly what vegetable-looking-things are vegetables and what are not…I guess. I find these things fascinating.

Most of the time, actually. I was recently horrified when my flatmate was surprised to find out that aubergine (eggplant) is actually a fruit, and not a ‘vegetable’, whatever that means. Here, for the greater good and knowledge of humankind, is an exhaustive (well, it exhausted me) list of all the things made from plants you’re ever likely to meet and eat, and what they actually are.
The first thing I’ll clear up is that ‘vegetable’ is pretty much meaningless: it’s not the opposite of fruit (as the aubergine thing clearly demonstrates), and it’s not the opposite of plants you eat for pudding (carrot cake, courgette cake, rocket and raspberry salad, etc.), and it’s not savoury plant products either (sweetcorn, anybody?). Vegetable doesn’t really seem to mean anything, so unfortunately, we will have to leave the cosy world of fruit and vegetables, and get our heads round some nasty botanical concepts, like the difference between a leaf and a flower, and some even nastier words. Nevermind, on we plough regardless…

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