Wonky veg Wonky vag
I dug up my parsnips today. I'm very proud of my parsnips and I'm about to make parsnip soup with double bloody cream in it for lunch. It's a friend's recipe which is unashamedly rammed with calories and salt and she delivered a whole flask of it for me last week as I was just about to run away to an abandoned croft in the Outer Hebrides to avoid having to deal with our over running, over budget, over IT, building work. Perfect timing Pamie, thank you.
This soup is rich and creamy and full of gorgeous freshly dug nutty parsnip flavour and at absolutely no point during lunch will I question whether or not this taste sensation came from parsnips that were mathematically pleasing in their shape or size or that their colour was the correct hue of parsnip beige. I won't care at all, it won't cross my mind for even a second and yet undoubtedly if I was to buy a bag of parsnips from any of the big supermarkets, despite continued pressures and to be fair efforts on their part, I'd struggle to get my hands on anything but the supermodel version.
The big 4 are still hand picking the best carrots rather than buying whole crops and binning wonky fruit and veg amounts to around 1.2 billion tons of food wastage every year (https://www.foodservicefootprint.com/)
How much wonky goodness and nourishment is that ? How much potential is that just chucked on the waste heap to rot away ? And that's not just millions of bowls of creamy parsnip soup leading to instant happiness and elevated measurable levels of contentment , that's jobs, futures, lives, economics all adversely affected because of our need for everything to be visually pleasing and fit this weird skewiff version of valuable.
It's something that I've been struggling with massively in the last 6 months. Feelings of value, worth, purpose. What's the point of me now ? The eldest has left home, my periods have stopped, my meno midriff is happily jiggling around ever baggier elasticated waists, career a little stagnant and the promise of challenge and adventure feels very far off these days. Not only am I emotionally wonky but honestly, sometimes I feel that my body & my bits are every inch the embodiment of that parsnip that would be thrown on the pile with all the other wonky bits, never to see a soup again.
If you ask the professionals, it seems that the criteria for veg selection are freshness, uniformity of size, variety, colour, degree of ripeness and freedom from defects. Those are the qualities most frequently sought in the search for the perfect parsnip.
Hanggggg on a minute ... and we're choosing FOOD with this list ? Sorry to be to fun sucker here but where's flavour or taste on that list ? And although outside the world of veggie pageants and in our world of social media selection, the criteria is thankfully more diverse, I was so saddened to hear that Linda Evangelista (who was my favourite supermodel) through her own announcement, had been permanently deformed by a cosmetic procedure and had retreated from public life. This is a someone who made a fortune being one of the kick ass most bankable faces of a generation and still as an ageing woman continued to try and meet the impossibly high beauty standards that we are all affected by. You add beauty to value and very quickly you have what some data suggests is nearly 40 % of food grown globally that is not eaten. Veg & supermodel are all interchangeable by the way in case you were missing the link. A tenuous link perhaps but you see what I'm getting at.
Yes, I have grey pubes and a bikini line that the local tree surgeon would need a double shift to tackle. I'm very sure my bingo wings and flabby vag looks pretty much the same in the rigidity stakes and you're right I am wayyyy past wanting to or being able to grow a life in my scarred and tired uterus. I have rogue hairs growing in all sorts of places, I often love a mid afternoon nap with the pug snoring beside me and yes i've swapped Pacha at 5am for my brilliant, amazing, beautifully rewarding veg patch where I grow and then eat ALL the wonky veg. Because despite my parsnips that I dug up this week being the non catwalk version .. they are full of earthy goodness that have grown and matured underground to finally bring immense pleasure to my table. And that's what I need to remind myself of when i'm looking despondently in the mirror or on the commute where everyone looks 30 something. I still have potential, I have experience, I have history and stories, I have energy and flavour, humour and kindness. And there are lots and lots of us whose value is not being exploited and used to make the world a richer place. Dig a little deeper .. you'll make tastier soup.
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves
600g / 1lb 5oz parsnips chopped
1 litre / 1 3/4 pints hot vegetable stock
200ml / 7fl oz double cream
1 tsp mild curry powder
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
salt & pepper
Heat the oil in a deep saucepan over a medium heat. In go the chopped parsnips & garlic and stir under they are just coloured. Bung in the chilli flakes & stir.
Pour in the stock and turn up the temp until it comes to a boil & then turn heat down to simmer for 15 mins.
Remove the pan from the heat and blitz with a hand blender or one of those fancy soup makers. Just make sure you have the lid on .. it's hot.
Return to the heat & add the cream
Season with salt & pepper.
I like it with a a few grates of parmesan & some sourdough toast as well.