Thursday, March 6, 2008

Parsnips - the "Other" Carrot

Parsnips sound like a mean veggie. The grouchy old aunt of vegetables. Maybe b/c it reminds me of words like persnickety (fussy about small details - having the characteristics of a snob), or parsimonious (frugal to the point of stinginess), and snippy (short tempered, snappish). Makes you kind of think parsnips would taste hard and bitter.

As mean as it sounded, we bought some. I do think I have tasted it cooked before (maybe mixed in with some potatoes??) - but my earliest association with it might have been when I was just a young girl. I think of parsnips and I think of Rosie.

Rosie was a little girl that lived in the house behind me. She had super long, beautiful, brown hair that was always done up in two very tight braids. Her hair was so long and heavy that she claimed it gave her headaches... or maybe it was the braids being too tight that gave her the headaches... One day her dad chopped off her hair. It didn't look beautiful anymore. Her dad also pierced her ears for her with a needle and thread when she was young (and she had loops of thread or string hanging from her ears until they healed). Her parents were from Germany and they seemed old and grouchy.

I can almost picture the two of us out in her backyard digging up parsnips from the garden and eating them (I'm sure we rinsed off the dirt or at least wiped off the dirt first) . This was very likely how it happened b/c she also introduced me to the delightful snack of eating a raw potato with salt sprinkled on it (gag). Since the neighborhood rhubarb patch that us kids sometimes "borrowed" rhubarb from, was just across Rosie's driveway, she is probably the one I also shared stalks of rhubarb with (w/some sugar of course).

I couldn't remember though what those parsnips tasted like, and since the kids had never tasted them before - it was basically something new for us all.

I found it odd that there was such a heavy coating of wax on the outside of the parsnips - but that all got peeled off. I placed the cut up 'snips in some water and boiled them like I'd boil potatoes.

The taste was interesting. Sweet, a bit nutty, and also another flavor that is hard to describe - it kind of has a "bite" to it, some type of spiciness...reminds me of a radish or turnip maybe. I think I'd like them better mixed in a stew or mixed in with potatoes, so the flavor would not be so strong.

Ds kind of dreaded tasting it being that when cooked it looked like potatoes, his least favorite veggie. But he tasted it and thought it was sweet and maybe even a bit better than potatoes.

Dd, who LOVES carrots - wasn't all that impressed with this white carrot interloper. She actually would have liked it better raw I'm sure since she loves raw turnips.

You got to feel a bit sorry for parsnips - they've been around for many moons and were the veggie of choice before people realized you could eat potatoes. In "olden times" b/c the parsnips are so sweet - they would even be eaten more as a dessert cooked up with some honey. I guess you could use them instead of carrots in a carrot cake.

Do you have any great parsnips recipes??


FrazzMom said...

I put them in my homemade chicken noodle soup along with potatoes, carrots, celery, and onion.

I also remember eating them raw as a child. I had totally forgotten that memory until I read your post!

My Ice Cream Diary said...

Roasted in the oven with other winter veggies. Mmmmm.