Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, November 27, 2010


With Thanksgiving just past, let me sing the praises of the lowly turnip (brassica rapa), the noblest member of the mustard family.

Peel a turnip root, slice it, boil it, mash it with some butter and milk, warm it, pepper it, then revel in its pungent flavor.  Now that's good eatin'.  Given a choice between a bowl of butternut squash and a bowl of mashed turnip, I'll go for the turnip everytime.  While others were giving thanks for family, friends and health this past Thursday, I was silently giving thanks for turnips.

Note that I am refering to the turnip root, not turnip greens.  Although my current residence teeters toward the South, I am Yankee born and bred; I have no knowledge of (or appreciation for) turnip greens.

A few turnips facts gleaned from a brief internet search:

The turnip root is high in Vitamin C.  So who needs orange juice?

The turnip is of Eurasian ancestry; it's origin have been lost in the mists of the past.  Personal opinion:  the lack of turnips led directly to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Pliny the Elder considered the turnip one of the most important vegetables.  Pliny was a wise man.

In Iran, the turnip is used to reduce fever.  Not so much today, I fear.  Perhaps the liberal use of turnips would reduce the Middle-East as one of the world's hot spots.

The turnip is a relative of the onion and the radish.  Strong family genes.

In Celtic societies, the turnip is often carved and used as lanterns, or placed in windows to scare off evil and harmful spirits.  Such versatility.

The turnip has been immortalized in idiom.  "He just fell off the turnip truck."  "You can't get blood from a turnip."  (Whoever came up with that one never saw me slice turnips.)  And, 'You're a turnip-brained fathead!"

Last Saturday, a Turnip Festival was held in Eastham, Massachusetts.  Turnip Festival, not a Cranberry Festival!  Cape Cod is slowing coming around to my way of thinking.

And sadly, it appears there are no turnip songs!   So there is a opening for anyone who is musically inclined.  Imagine the fame and riches that will come to the person who provides the world with a turnip anthem!

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