Thursday, April 03, 2008

Un-tethered

I am my mother’s daughter and like her, whenever I go about and see something out of the usual I am compelled to make a beeline towards that waving particularity. I can still hear her ask, “Doesn’t that have special juice?” as she draws me towards a piece of costume jewelry perhaps a lion’s head staring hard with cubic zirconium eyes and a face emblazoned with emeralds. Kohlrabi another rare sighting to be sure, when glimpsed must be bought directly on the spot. I’ve gone years at a time without noticing any in the near vicinity. As exciting as witnessing that juvenile eagle unleash its wing to the wind outside my window, I spy a bunch with its flailing leaves muzzled in feigned submission at the grocers. But I know different, in spite of how unassuming they look amidst the bok choy and the turnips, given a chance they’ll stand their own unique ground.

In their environs these squat bulbs look respectable enough, unobtrusive and orderly in militant rows. But hold still a moment, allow the distracting wave of leaves to cease, and what begins to form between two blinks of an eye is a creature somewhat topsy turvy and a little higgledy piggledy too. Blink again, it’s still true. Shouldn’t these globes exist below the earth pushing up when ready like a turnip or a beet? Do leaves emerge where roots should be? Instead this cultivated plant of the cabbage family sits decidedly upon the ground with gadabout leaves radiating knowledge of the inside joke. A quick Wikipedia scan further adds that the root-bulb is in fact a swollen stem.

But I really didn’t notice that then. Though I made a beeline to her house day after day perhaps I was desensitized by my own dissimilitude and unable to truly appreciate contrast, preferring perfectly ordinary instead. Along with cookies and salami sandwiches, lemonade and pancakes, I inadvertently ate a few knobs of kohlrabi on the way. I will readily admit--more than here or there. Nothing exotic but the name, pale cubes of cabbage-turnip plied in butter proved to be mild, sweet and exceedingly tender. They were truly a vegetable to be embraced by the young and timid or those unsure of strangeness. Easily, I fell into all three. Since then I’ve grown a soft spot for this under appreciated vegetable which lulls me back to a quiet time when I sampled new things in inconspicuous surroundings.

Back in my current kitchen I am surprised that I never really looked at these odd characters and simultaneously amazed that kohlrabi existed with me in the forever bemoaned non-descript suburb of upstate New York. I didn’t think anything happened “outside of the box” there, but there they plainly sat. I couldn’t really see anything except in comparison to another. Perhaps if I really saw splendid kohlrabi with its whirligig of leaves, I would have understood why it hurled itself out of a straitjacket called earth or that it liked to streak through the sky at night. And just maybe, I would have dared to fly solo too...

Vernal Kohlrabi Krunch: I usually peel, cube and steam young globes preferring to stay close to my old memory. This time after looking at them freshly, I decided to grate them and experience them anew. Raw they are exceedingly mild with the faintest bite. They are a bit weepy which I didn’t mind as it corresponds to the slow melt around me. The taste is the inner most core of spring.

Ingredients:
3 small kohlrabi bulbs peeled and grated
Golden raisins
Meyer lemon juice
Flax seed oil
Mustard
Dill/ celery seed
Salt

Directions: Have fun, it’s slaw after all! I kept it simple just wanting to let the clean taste shine through. A nice way to clear the palate after a winter of soulful eating…

10 comments:

nansita said...

Yuh-um! Sounds like spring. And thanks for linking back to '06. I like hearing more about your sensual journey.

Gattina said...

Calli, you are genius! This slaw is absolutely extraordinary!

Anh said...

oh yes Kohlrabi! We use them in a salad pretty much like slaw, too. I love them!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Wow -- I have never had raw kohlrabi, but this sounds like a wonderful salad.

Callipygia said...

nansita- it is like spring, even if it was snowing again today!

gattina- aww shucks, thanks- and the web is full of kohlrabi slaw, I'm just now discovering it.

anh- they have such different character raw vs. cooked. I like the greens too!

lydia- I don't know which way I like best, but at least their are a few globes to play around with.

sher said...

I don't cook this vegetable enough. The bulbs do show up at the store occasionally. I've always wanted to try the stuffed kohlrabi recipe I've had for years, but never have acted on that desire. I think you've motivated me.

Lucy said...

That whorl of leaves, spinning from the swollen root, have always elluded me. Why do green grocers feel it neccessary to de-leaf these creatures? Under-valued yes, but I love 'em too.

Great slaw. Flax seed oil...brilliant combination.

Lucy said...

Of course, I meant to say swollen stem. Old habits do die hard...

Callipygia said...

sher- I think the stuffed kohlrabi would be excellent, if you didn't start chipping away at the boats before baking!

lucy- de-leafed leaving those tell tale scars! perhaps 'the man' trying to surpress wildness even at the grocers, kind of makes me sad to see them bundled up too. Swollen stem just seems wrong/embarrassing/something hmmm...

burekaboy said...

hey there ;) thanks for the nice comment on my blog. i've left you a reply. we always ate kohlrabi at home so i guess i was used to seeing it whereas my friends who ate at our house had no clue what it was. i used to think it looked like an alien vegetable with all its protrusions. in any case, i love it in its fresh uncooked state. i actually wrote about this vegetable, too, a while back and there is a recipe there for an asian 'slaw' using it which is incredibly good and addictive & DEFINITELY worth a try :)) i'll be trying the one here next time around -- always looking for something new to do with it in its fresh state.