Turnips, parsnips

March 8, 2011

My mother was a pretty basic cook.

She made wonderful meatballs and red sauce (what Sicilian mom isn’t know for her sauce and meatballs?) Great frittati. Delicious eggplant. Scrumptious, oily peppers and eggs. Tuna salad that I can’t duplicate, to this day.

But that’s about it. Everything else, well, pretty basic.

The vegetables we grew up with were broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, tossed salad fixings. Burdock and dandelion were pretty exotic actually.

I was in the grocery the other day looking for some vegetables to make a new recipe. I needed parsnips.

But I had no idea what they looked like. I’d never cooked with them. Mom never cooked with them.

The Safeway vegetable department isn’t always labeled well, so signage wasn’t much help.

I picked up a turnip and turned to the woman beside me. She was about my age.

“Is this a parsnip?” I asked.

She looked stricken. “I don’t think so,” she said. She had no idea, either.

I pawed through the bin a bit and then M. found the parsnips on the other side of the vegetable department.

Well, they aren’t really exotic to some people, but the are to me.

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