Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Neeps** and tatties

Once upon a time fruit and vegetables would be bought from the greengrocer, meat from the butcher, and so on.  Then came the supermarkets and changed all that.  Although they fly all sorts in from every corner of the world, we've become used to a range of produce that's what they consider to be in demand.  And in the supermarkets I frequent they seem to have little idea how to look after the produce.

That seems to be changing.  I've noticed a new generation of greengrocers coming to life, both in the UK and in France.  In both cases they are chains, but specialise mainly in fruit and vegetables. They are providing a good range and more importantly, everything in beautiful condition.

The French store stocks all sorts of unusual fruits and vegetables, so I had to investigate.  They provided a leaflet,  "Ancient and Forgotten Vegetables", to explain what do do with such delights as swedes (rutabaga) and parsnips (panais).  "Swedes, well prepared with a cream sauce, will not fail to surprise you". 

Horseradsish (raifort) can be used grated in place of mustard.

Some of these oddities really are odd. These are parsley root, looking remarkably like parsnips to me, but apparently more like turnip-rooted chervil and the flavour is more pungent.

If you don't fancy parsley roots or turnip rooted chervil, and I can't say that have an immediate attraction, maybe these "wild onions" would be more in your line.  Their alternative name is lampascioni and it wasn't until I looked that up that I realised they have nothing to do with onions but are related to the hyacinth, grape hyacinths to be exact. 

There were pages more but my final offering is "barbe de capucin", dandelion shoots, or better known in France as "pissenlit".  In Italian they are piscialletto and the old English folk name is of course "piss-a-bed".  I've never tried them either.

**Neeps and tatties are traditionally served with haggis.  Neeps are turnips, that is the big yellow turnips called swedes in England, rutabaga in France.

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  1. I'm hungry now....
    I fancy some Dandelion roots. Sell them as health foods and you will make a bomb!

  2. I should try and eat more odd vegetables. I think many of them go to waste after traveling so far and sitting so long. Mostly from South America and Mexico here, the odd ones.

  3. Good points - we get them in Norway too and use them a lot.

    Btw: Also here to wish you a Happy New Year!


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