Baked Cauliflower

Once there was a young wombat named Benson who lived in a comfortable wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

Benson didn’t like cauliflower. At all. He didn’t like the way it was all white, and kind of stalky, all legs, and crunchy. And he especially didn’t like the taste.

Aunt Lillibet loved cauliflower. She loved cauliflower soup and steamed cauliflower and cauliflower casserole and she especially loved baked cauliflower.

One day Benson’s Uncle Elton came over with his son Elmer, Benson’s cousin, and he brought a big cauliflower that he had grown himself. Aunt Lillibet was very pleased.

“It’s a beautiful cauliflower,” she said, “and so big!”

Uncle Elton was very happy that she liked it. “My cauliflowers have done very well this year,” he said, “but you can only eat so much cauliflower.”

“Oh, I could eat cauliflower all day!” Aunt Lillibet said.

At dinner-time, Benson said to his mother, “Can I just have dessert tonight?”

“Of course not,” she said. “Why don’t you help me cook the cauliflower? Then you might enjoy eating it more.”

Benson didn’t think he would enjoy eating it at all.

Benson’s mother cut off the green leaves and put the cauliflower in a big pan. Benson trickled some oil over it, and sprinkled spices on it, some nutmeg and some paprika. His mother put it in the oven. Then they made grated cheese to go with it, and salad with carrots sticks and tomatoes and capsicum and spinach leaves and chopped-up beetroot.

When it was time for dinner, Benson’s mother took the cauliflower out of the oven. Benson’s heart sank. There was so much of it, and it was all white and cauliflowery.

“Can I just have the cheese?” he said.

“Certainly not,” Aunt Lillibet said. “Cauliflower is very good for you. If you don’t try it, how do you know you don’t like it?”

Benson said, “It’s cauliflower. I know I don’t like it.”

“Nonsense,” said Aunt Lillibet. “You just need to get used to it. When I was a girl I didn’t like turnips, and my mother made me eat them anyway and now I love them.”

Benson’s mother put a small amount of cauliflower on his plate, with lots of cheese and a big pile of salad. He held his breath and ate the cauliflower fast, then he had a big piece of tomato to take the taste of the cauliflower away.

Aunt Lillibet ate lots and lots of cauliflower. “You should have some more of this delicious cauliflower, Benson,” she said.

“No, thankyou,” said Benson politely.

Aunt Moss said, “I never liked cauliflower when I was a girl, but my mother always made me eat it anyway.” She thought about it a bit. “I still don’t like it much,” she said.

Finally it was time for dessert: ginger pudding and custard, Benson’s favourite.

Aunt Lillibet didn’t care for ginger pudding at all. “I’m so full,” she said, “I think I’ll just have the custard.”

“Nonsense,” Benson’s mother said. “ If you don’t try it, how do you know you don’t like it?”

She cut a big piece of pudding and put it on Lillibet’s plate.

“It’s very good for you,” Aunt Moss said. “It’s full of vitamins and fibre.” She loved ginger pudding. “Mmm, delicious!” she said.

Benson ate his pudding. “Mmmm, delicious,” he said. He and Aunt Moss smiled at each other. His mother gave them both extra pudding, and extra custard.

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