A funny, but embarrassing, parsnip story

So my 87-y-o mom, who lives with me, wants to make an autumnal vegetable soup tomorrow. She went to Giant and got everything she needed, except they were out of parsnips. She asks me to stop and pick one up on my way home.

So I stop at the local Redner’s. I find myself standing in the Produce section wondering, what exactly is a parsnip. I know I’ve eaten them, I’m pretty sure it’s a root veggie. But it occurs to me that I’ve never actually purchased a fresh one.

I spot what I think might be a parsnip, but the bin is unlabeled. I see an employee stocking produce and ask. He responds that he doesn’t think they sell parsnips, but he’s less than convincing. I spot a woman about my mom’s age, so I grab the unidentified root veggie and ask her if it’s a parsnip. She doesn’t know??? Don’t women of that age know every vegetable? She suggests I take it to custmer service and ask there.

So, I walk to the service counter and ask the nice young lady there what is this veggie I’m holding? Is it a parsnip? She doesn’t know, but thinks it might be. An older gentleman waiting at the service desk looks at me and says “That’s a parsnip. Takes me back to Sunday dinners at grandma’s.”

When I check out, the parsnip is the last thing to be rung up. I expect a question regarding what it is. Nope, checker puts it in as a parsnip without even looking twice. I told him he may want to suggest to management he lead a produce training session :stuck_out_tongue:


Great story!

When I told mom the story she responded: “I should have told you to get a white carrot.” And I would have known what that meant.


I understand. I have been asked several times by grocery checkers what a produce item is. The last one was an artichoke. I live in a land of stuffed artichokes, go figure.


For the few times I make chicken noodle soup, celeriac is a key ingredient. Most people who see it have no idea what it is. It looks like some fugly alien baby’s head. Hairy, too.

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I think the check-out folks get a real education in produce. I once had a checker at Wegmans who knew the variety of each of the mushrooms I’d bagged. I was truly impressed.


So talk to me about celeriac. What’s it like? How do you use it? Is it edible after it cooks in the soup?

It tastes like ramped up celery. I cut off the ugly ass exterior, then cut it into chunks. It is edible after cooking, but I’m not a fan - I really only use it for flavoring. The texture is similar to potato.

And, of course, you can use it raw & shredded for Waldorf salad :slight_smile:

So do you use it in place of or in addition to celery?

Good stuff. Had to get my name in here :wink:


that’s in north Jersey, no?

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I really like the spiciness of parsnips. Spring dug parsnips are sweet. It’s as if they are a different vegetable it seems. I never had them growing up, one of the few vegetables my mother didn’t cook. Perhaps she didn’t know about them because she was all about fresh vegetables.

Great screen name parsnipity!

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In place of.

it’s delicious!

You cook it basically like potatoes – boiled, steamed, and roasted are the most common.

You can boil and mash – makes a really nice alternative to mashed potatoes.

Has a nice celery flavor that complements a lot of other things.

Great story . I love those parsnips . The real question is . When do you use the rutabaga over the turnip ? Or vice versus ? Got to eat your root vegetables.

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Great story.

Some years ago, at a branch of an upscale regional grocery chain, I got a bunch of golden beets for free because they had no price sticker and nobody (including myself) knew what they were. “Just take them!” said the manager, with a shrug and a smile. I later identified them from an internet search.

BTW, I absolutely love parsnips, especially when paired with carrots and prepared very simply: e.g., sliced lengthwise, tossed in some olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and roasted until slightly caramelized.


Gio, I have fond memories of whipped parsnips at Summer Shack one May evening, but have never been able to replicate them. I suspect Jasper’s version had way more butter than I can bring myself to use, but even when I buy them in Spring, they always have that radishy spice, which I don’t much like. I know that lengthwise cracks in carrots signal woody, bitter interiors. Is that also true of parsnips?

Yes.Much more so than carrots. I would never need to core a carrot but would always do so with a parsnip. Like most root vegetables, they play an important part in British cooking in the colder months. Cut into thumb sized chunks and roasted, I’d serve them with roast beef or chicken. They are also an imprtant part in “steamed grated root vegetables” which can pretty much appear alongside any winter meat dish in this house - it is exactly what it says - we use a mix of usually three veg, along with very finely sliced leek and, erm, steam them. Leftovers, if they’re given a little time in the fryin g pan to dry out, make a good base for a veggie frittata.

It’s usually said that leeks are sweeter if they are left in the ground until there’s been a frost but I’ve no idea if that’s true or not as I don’t grow them

Thanks, Harters. I’d never have thought to core either a parsnip or a carrot. Are you saying that the only bitter part of the parsnip is the core? I usually roast them in chunks, as that process sweetens them.