Bringing back a "forgotten" vegetable

A spate of recent books like The Cooking Gene by Michael Twitty and Victuals by Ronni Lundy point to a renewed interest in traditional foods and foodways. This includes "rediscovering" heirloom plants and other ingredients that have fallen out of favor over the decades and centuries. Most of the "rediscovering" happens in home gardens or local markets that can take the risk of growing small quantities of heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables. 

Now a bigger name is getting in on the action. Grocery chain Waitrose has recently announced that it will be selling salsify in 100 of its stores. A root vegetable that was popular in 19th century Victorian England, salsify's flavor is difficult to describe. The packaging states that it tastes "a little like a mild artichoke, perhaps with a trace of liquorice or, when cooked, some even claim to detect a hint of oysters."

glazed salsify

The vegetable isn't much to look at and will therefore probably not become an Instagram sensation. Salsify resembles parsnip, its distant relative, and comes in both white and black varieties, both of which will be available in select stores.

Waitrose notes that consumer demand for more traditionals foods is growing, which is spurring them into finding foods that fit the bill. The supermarket chain is also bringing back Fenland celery, once popular in Victorian Christmas markets. Fenland celery is whiter than traditional celery and features a sweet, nutty flavor. 

Photo of Glazed salsify and carrots from V is for Vegetables by Michael Anthony.

1 Comment

  • Foodycat  on  11/12/2018 at 6:43 AM

    Salsify is an absolute pig to prepare. I will order it in restaurants (Rowley Leigh used to do good things with it at Cafe l'Anglais) but will never prepare it myself again.

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