Monday, 26 January 2015


I realised that although you always find turnips in shops, I almost never eat them. Do you? I don't know anyone who does. I barely cook with them save for their inclusion in my winter beef stew, along with swede. And there's another neglected root. I wanted to correct this. Our mantra is all about everyday ingredients after all.

I made a turnip puree, baking one half and poaching the other, before blending with a little cream and butter. The texture is great: silky. The flavour is... turnippy, but only just. Very subtle. I imagine additions like shallots or garlic would overwhelm. What to do? I've looked for recipes but the turnip seems to be a very neglected veg. If you have a killer dish, do let me know.

I've only just found out that turnips and swedes are brassicas. It's a much larger family than I realised. And that name 'swede' means Swede, as in Swedish turnip. The original name for turnip, preserved by the Scots (for swede), is naep. For some reason it attracted the prefix 'tur'. No one seems to know why. Confused yet?

In the U.S., a swede is a rutabaga, which derives from the Swedish term Rotabagge meaning 'ram root'. But in Sweden a swede is known as a Kålrot, the word meaning cabbage root. Kål like kale and Kålrot like German kohlrabi, yet another brassica, the name there means, with exquisite circularity, cabbage-turnip. Rabi deriving from the Latin term for turnip: rapa; itself coming from the original Proto-IndoEuropean word rapom. 

And ALL these vegetables, plus kale, sprouts (yuk), cauliflower (cabbage flower), radishes, mustard greens, pak choi and broccoli all derive from wild mustard. 

Now can someone tell me why turnips in the North of England are called snaggers?

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