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The best way to say the word 'vegetable' is like this: veggie-wobble. It's addictive, beware.

Not one but TWO sugar beets were sighted today, outside of Gårdstånga on E22 heading toward Lund. Fall is officially here. It's the annual I-Saw-a-Sugar-Beet-on-the-Side-of-the-Road-so-it-Must-be-Autum journal post! Yay!

New favorite veggie-wobble: KOHLRABI. Like George Martin, this one is all my brother's fault. Have you ever had a kohlrabi? I bet you have, but you didn't know it. Sometimes they're the mysterious white crispy veggies in frozen wok mixes or the pale thin strips of veggies mixed in with the red peppers and julienned carrots in the vinaigrette vegetable jar. They look forbiddingly strange in the grocery store if you don't know what to do with them, much like that entire endcap of "exotic" fruits from the tropics that sit in piles of psychedelic pinks and oranges with star shapes or fuzz growing all over them.

The nice thing about them, my brother informed me, while expertly peeling and slicing one up last month, is that they are as good raw as they are cooked. I bought one this weekend and ate it right up with my salads and it was so good I bought another one! This one has been cut in half, whereby one half was sautéed with carrots and spinach and served with salmon, and the other half was (a few days later) cooked with chicken and mushrooms and haricots verts with soy sauce and ginger, which turned them a softly coral shade of orange, prompting me to answer Karin's suspicious inquiry at the dinner table with a disarming, "It might be carrots..." and a secret hurrah when she ate them all up with no protest.*

Martin has been asking all kinds of questions of me lately, the kind that I don't know the answer to. This makes me feel alternately exasperated (I know a lot! Ask me about something I DO know, for crying out loud, kid!) and perturbed, and not a bit stupid. Sometimes it is things that I USED to know, but no longer remember (damn rabbits) and sometimes it's stuff that I never knew (what does E=MC2 actually mean, for example. I know what it STANDS for, but I couldn't explain it. Luckily, Anders came to the rescue with an explanation that made it so simple even I could understand). I'm a little tired of answering "I don't know, honey" or "We can look it up when we get home." So much for being an omniscient parental figure. THAT illusion is flying out the window for him pretty quickly these days.

There was a veg-related point to this somewhere. Ah! Martin's question to me today was: What is the difference between a fruit and a vegetable? We all pondered it for a bit, but neither Anders and I were really sure of the answer. Martin thought it was that vegetables mainly grow in the ground as single plants, whereas fruit grow on bushes or trees. One idea proffered was that fruit are sweet, while vegetables are not, but tomatoes and avocado are fruit and they're not sweet. I suggested that if you could make an ice cream flavor out of it, it was a fruit.

I kept thinking it had something to do with the seeds, but the more I thought about it, the more I was pretty sure that wasn't quite right. And then I thought that maybe it's just arbitrary, and it turns out that I was right on both counts:
  • Custom and tradition dictate how they are used and classified in every day contexts, like the grocery store

  • A fruit is a plant ovary/womb, which contains seeds, vegetables are everything else: stems, seeds, leaves, flowers, roots

  • Tomatoes are BERRIES

  • Peas and beans are vegetables, but peas in a pod are FRUIT

  • Broccoli, cauliflower and artichokes are FLOWERS

  • Grain, which is the dry part of a cereal grass, is a FRUIT
    (Wait...does that make BREAD a FRUIT??)

  • Nuts are FRUIT (except for those imposters, peanuts, which are actually a LEGUME

  • The Garlic Hotline Number is 1-800-330-5922 for those of you in the States. I would like a reason to have to call the Garlic Hotline.

  • If you google "difference between a fruit and a vegetable" you will come up with a mind-boggling 1,930,000 hits. Apparently, Martin is not the only one out there wondering.
I love artichokes, spinach, broccoli, and cooked carrots. I adore pumpkin and celery and and asparagus. I get wicked cravings for water chestnuts, haricot verts, plum tomatoes and avocados. I loathe and avoid eating lima beans, black-eyed-peas and sweet potatoes when they are served in the style that requires little marshmallows at Thanksgiving.

How do you feel about veggies? Got any non-mainstream favorites like kohlrabi that I might be missing out on?

*Though there was much sturm und drang about the green beans. argh
mood: curious
music: Lene Marlin—Unforgiveable Sinner


As it turns out, I've had a major crack up and belly laugh with the first sentence. Now I'll have to go back and read the rest of the entry.

Hee! You said it out loud, didn't you? :D

I love sweet potaotos (yams) but would never serve them with little marshmallows. I curry them and roast them. I put them in soups and I sautee them with beets and spices. Yumm.
I love beets, spinach, broccoli, potatos, peas, beans, various greens, avacados, carrots, artichokes, zucchini, delicata, kabuchu squash, corn, arugula, and on and on.
I don't know what haricot verts are. I have a friend who loves okra. Good thing she's a good friend, or I might have had to disown her over that. As it is, I'm having to bear with another friend who hates beets (!) and another who dislikes watermelon. Can you believe that?

You can call the garlic hotline and ask them why my garlic cloves started to separate on the head and also why the skins got mottled and darkish. I've already found out the answer from my master garlic growing farmer friend (thus I put up with her love of okra and her southern endearments.)
It is a legitimate question though, if you really want to phone them.
(Have I turned into some sort of advice giving problem solver of non-problems? Whats up with that? ...No, don't answer those questions.)

Haricots verts are French-style (skinny) green beans.
What is delicata??
I've only had okra once and it was GROSS. Totally slimy.
To be honest, I don't care that much for beets OR watermelon (though I'll eat them both). Watermelon is totally tasteless to me, most of the time, it's just water and I hate all the seeds. Though I DO like watermelon flavor in things like Wacky Wafers and Jello. Go figure.

As luck would have it, Dirk's absolute favorite vegetable is Kohlrabi. However, he grew up on an organic vegetable farm; so I guess that's not so odd considering the context. We are big veggie eaters in this house, but it is agreed: Lima beans are inedible, nasty things.

We adore brussel sprouts with just a touch of nutmeg and spinach eaten most any way.

In season however I would have to say that asparagus steals the show.

Yes yess. How could I have forgotten brussel sprouts. mmmm. And asparagus. ditto on Lima Beans, but I love small white beans. I've recently been introduced to a refreshing way to serve black-eyed-peas that has redeemed them in my eyes. heehee.

I avoid veggies and fruits almost religiously. There are a few exceptions, but I am mainly a carnivore. I've started eating some, like roasted soy nuts (have grown to love those!) Overall though, I prefer to look at green things, not eat them.

The plants I usually eat are nuts (almost any kind, especially cashews), potatoes are good, but I don't eat them all that often, and occasionally peas and carrots in a stew. Oh yes, can't forget my beloved kidney and black beans... refried or in chili! :)

Actually, if you are a human, you are mainly a herbivore, and you're doing your body an injustice by avoiding fruits and vegetables. Religion has nothing to do with it.

Is kohlrabi the same thing as jicama?

Did you know tomatoes are legally classified as a vegetable and not a fruit (which they are) in the U.S. because of a lawsuit filed by someone not wanting to pay taxes on fruit? Vegetables had no such tax... therefore they wanted tomatoes to be a veggie. So stupid.

I think of fruit as being swollen flower wombs surrounding their pollinated seeds/babies. Vegetables are other plant parts? (roots, leaves, whole flowers) Just my initial though.

Nope. Jicama isn't the same.

And yes I knew about the tomato thing. Supreme Court, no less. I agree about the stupidity. The decision was used later, in the U.S., to justify calling KETCHUP a vegetable for school lunches.

(no subject) - (Anonymous)   Expand  

what I wanna know is: Is there a difference between haricot verts and green beans or are you just being all fancy? 'Cuz here in Canada as you probably know our labels are all written in French and in English and the cans of green beans read haricots verts.

Also: have you tried fennel (or Anise)? I LOVE it. Also good cooked or raw. Slight licorice taste (milder when cooked) Great in salads (raw, sliced thin)

xo wee

How could I have forgotten to mention fennel. So good.

Haricot verts are the same vegetable as green beans but they are picked earlier - so it's a distinction in the way they are cultivated. Kind of like you can call a big ol' overgrown zuchinni the same thing as a petite tender zuchinni, but they are used differently and the taste is barely comparable.

a reason to call the garlic hotline could anxiety over the fact that there is such a thing as garlic ice cream although it is NOT a fruit. :-O

i recently boiled a kohlrabi half-done and quickly baked it in the oven slathered with olive oil, black pepper and herbs. it was divine!

fennel, radishes, and kohlrabi are my favorite greens right now.

I want to try that recipe...what were your cooking times for boiling and baking? (or roasting, or whatever you did)?


The closest I can describe kohlrabi would be to that of a turnip.
And I will definitely try it in salad; that sounds yummy!


Beets are my current favorite veggie. I grew up loving them with their greend and butter. But, now I am enjoying them boiled like a potato, slip the skins off and serve on top of fresh greens and plenty of Feta cheese. That Feta makes them wonderful!
I rememember when we lived in Belgium being served Fennel bulbs baked with whole tomatoes - they were aqbsolutely delicious - but I can't remember if there were any herbs added. I like most all veggies now.
Sweet potatoes are best roasted. Love, Lizardmom

When you boil beets do they still taste really beety? The only beet taste I know is the pickled taste, and I bet that's not really how they taste.

(no subject) - (Anonymous)   Expand  

Love these fruit facts! :)

- Molly

I still like the celery root, and soon it will get into season and become relatively cheap. I only once tried the recipe with celery root fried in honey and cinnamon (!), but I have it somewhere (and I suppose Dagens Nyheter still has it on their webpage).

By the way, here is one crazy guy who tried to make a potato gratin on sweet potato, despite that I knew they biologically have nothing in common. To make a long story short: no, it did not work out very well. :)

How DO I feel about veggie? I like broccoli, onions, garlic. I like any kind of starchy veggie. The rest I eat, but mainly just because I know I should. The same with fruit. I like watermelon...but the rest I have a relationship based on obligation ;o)

I never heard of anyone that didn't like fruit as much as you. Only watermelon?? Hrm. And here I practically have rhapsodies over a bowl of chilled, chopped strawberries, canteloupe, grapes and blueberries.

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