Listen up, all ye generations with a letter: X, Y, Z. You’ve probably noticed our cool cousins the millennials get all the good stuff. For instance, millennial pink is a thing. It’s actually a range of fetching pinks, all of which manage to remain visually compelling and relevant. Go figure. This Gen Xer is admittedly jelly, as the colors associated with my wretched, aesthetically challenged generation are mostly repulsive neons served up in everything from chartreuse lace gloves to hot-pink rubber bracelets to violent orange scrunchies for our dead sprouts of Aqua Netted hair.
And speaking of sprouts… The millennials have somehow scored their own millennial pink lettuce, and the rosy edible is popping up all over Instagram. The official moniker of the pink ruffly lettuce is radicchio del Veneto, or la rosé del Veneto. Yes, even the name is sexy as hell. Yes, it looks like something only unicorns and wee summer fairies would nibble on their magical keto diets. This writer can imagine the rosy froufrou leaves growing on enchanted dewy millennial moss somewhere in the last lush, green, hidden tenth of an acre of Silicon Valley.
But no! If the name didn’t clue you in already (because you were too busy moping about your generation’s lack of cool colors and lettuces), this treat is a chicory that is mostly cultivated in the Veneto region of Italy. Now, of course, it’s hopped on over to the U.S., where it grows in California and Pennsylvania and a few other lucky states, charming those who tend to annoy their dining companions by photographing their food and posting it to social media before actually consuming it. (*cough* damn millennials *cough*)
I’m betting you’ve heard of basic radicchio (like, sooo basic) — which has clawed its way into shiny plastic bags of produce at your local supermarket — even if you haven’t ever seen an actual head of it at the organic co-op where they sell local honey face masks and essence-of-patchouli muffins. Regular radicchio is available 365 days a year, but the blessed radicchio del Veneto (as well as a few other highbrow varieties of radicchio) emerge from their magical slumber in late winter and early spring.
Now, this is the part where I start to feel bad for the special radicchios. They are “forced” varieties — which means the poor chicory gets to grow for a little bit, gets yanked out of its comfy soil bed in the fall, gets replanted and then finishes growing in the damn dark, buried alive in sand so no sunlight can reach its stem.
I’ll wait while you get the Kleenex. It’s OK to weep for sunlight-deprived vegetables. It’s a hard-knock life for millennials and their preferred chicory varietals. But millennial pink lettuce seems to have accepted that it must suffer for its beauty — and for Instagram photo ops. Think of it as the Kardashian of lettuces. Check out this seriously pretty foodstuff, as Instagrammed by @morganjfairchild:
Ermagerd! What even! Get in mah camera phone frame, then get in mah belly!
This fluffy cotton candy of the salad kingdom is slightly bitter and slightly sweet, like Kim Kardashian West’s tongue when she’s fed up with her mother, Kris Jenner. It doesn’t have the same strong bite as standard-ass radicchio. We’d tell you it’s closer in flavor to Castelfranco leaves, except this Gen X writer has no effing clue what Castelfranco leaves are. We would have guessed the ivy that grows on James Franco’s LA home, but um, nope. You can Google “Castelfranco” and totes let your elders here know.
Where can you get this to feed your baby unicorn or adopted rescue goat? Try Whole Foods (duh), which expects to keep the stuff in stock through spring, Eataly or wholesale produce supplier Baldor (again, would have guessed a Lord of the Rings villain, but nah).
Clare de Boer and Jess Shadbolt — chefs who work at restaurant King — told Eater NY the radicchio “brings bright joy to the kitchen.” Must be nice. Damn millennials. Get off my lawn, you pink-obsessed pinkos. I’m growing tasteless iceberg this year.