Strange and Beautiful

When I saw these huge rutabagas (aka "neeps" if you're Scottish or "Swedes" if you're English) I was literally bowled over by their size. I've discovered that I really like these golden turnip-y roots and this is the only time of year that they seem to be available.  My Grampa used to like to eat his "beggies" raw  (they're sweet and crunchy that way - perfect for the veggie tray), but they are even better cooked.  My favorite way to eat them is to boil them half and half with potatoes and then mash them together.  I see that this combination is called "clapshot" in Scotland - "neeps and tatties" is the same thing, but mashed and eaten separately.  Both apparently go well with haggis.   

The girl in the photo is holding one of the astonishing rutabagas from the Wacheski Farm. She said she thought it looked like a heart. These look like what you would want if you were to enter the 10th Annual Rutabaga Curling competition in Ithaca, NY on December 22 this year.  

Also currently available at the market for a limited time only are the incredible pale green Romanesco cauliflower. They are sweet and nutty, more than regular cauliflower, but that's only if you can take your eyes off of them long enough to eat them.  Forms like these make the universe seem sentient. If you're into Mandelbrot sets and such, John Walker talks about the Romanesco in his article on Fractal Food:

"Nearly exact self-similar fractal forms occur do in nature, but I'd never seen such a beautiful and perfect example until, some time after moving to Switzerland, I came across a chou Romanesco like the one above in a grocery store. This is so visually stunning an object that on first encounter it's hard to imagine you're looking at a garden vegetable rather than an alien artefact created with molecular nanotechnology. But of course, then you realise that vegetables are created with molecular nanotechnology, albeit the product of earthly evolution, not extraterrestrial engineering."

It's odd how hypnotic the form of this vegetable is. Even though every vegetable is made with  molecular nanotechnology, somehow seeing it manifested in this living work of art makes me feel sad to destroy its perfection by taking a bite. 

I'm not sure this fits under the Strange and Beautiful title exactly, but we've been getting nice eggs from the Grandma's Kitchen lady. She drives all the way from north of Grand Rapids to come to the market. Apparently, she lives on a little peninsula on a lake up there so she's not very worried about her chickens getting away from her.  I thought the teapot on the back of her truck seemed like a good idea.  A little strange, but a beautiful solution to frosty mornings. 


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