Friday 18 March 2011

The best way to eat turnips

...I carried on flipping though that excellent cookbook (see yesterday) and came to the page about mangoes. This filled me with sorrow. I rarely eat mangoes. There are several reasons: they come from a long way away and they're a soft fruit. My growing understanding of the way our food is produced leads me to think that any short-shelf-life fruit coming any further than from Europe will be flown here. I try not to buy any foods that travel by air.

But the worst thing of all is that when (maybe once a year) my desire for a mango (or, more often to be honest, the amount it's discounted to) overcomes my scruples and I buy one, it never quite tastes as good as it should in my imagination. A mango should be the most delicious, giving fruit. It should be tender, slippery, soft and luscious.The smell should be almost overwhelming and the taste heavenly. Rich, floral, intensely fruity with roses and honey and that tiny background flavour of something unpleasantly animal that just brings it all together.

And the mangoes I've eaten just aren't that good. So I eat the next one only when I forget that the last one was disappointing.

Still, my eye trailed down the mango page, where it found the sentence about sour apples having much in common with an underripe mango- just right for a spicy Thai salad. That idea fizzed in my brain in a very exciting way. It had just got to that dull bit of winter about 2 months after the first soups, roasts, bangers and mash with oodles of gravy and the like were treated as returning heroes, when they were starting to pall. All I wanted was fresh, raw, cold, tangy food.

So I dug through my veg box to find everything I could eat raw and made the most delicious zingy winter salad. Carrots sliced into slim ribbons with a potato peeler, moon turnip slices, swede in matchsticks. Cabbage or kale in slivers. Garlic in delicious slices. Chillies, sliced and lurking evilly. Ginger in thin bright shards. Those apples in chunks, tossed in lime juice for sourness and to keep them pretty. All dressed with lime juice, sesame oil (just a drop, very easy to overdo), sweet chilli sauce and a quarter-teaspoon of dark muscovado sugar. Heaven. I'm sorry that I can't offer you a picture, but I've never been able to resist eating it long enough to photograph it.


  1. Wow that sounds like an extreme salad! I think the season has turned now with the blossom suddenly emerging and the extreme salad craving kicking in! I have luckily got loads of sprouts from work, so they are keeping me spring salad happy atm!

    My favourite turnip recipe is from the riverford cookbook and it involves cooking them in balsamic vinegar and honey, it is truly scrumptious and can be found here:

  2. Nicest mangoes I think are Alphonsos from the tree's birthplace in India. They are golden and sweet and NOW is their Moment (until May) as the heat gets serious.

    Way better than chocolate as a luxury I reckon.

    Hope we can tempt you into writing for our Low Carbon Cookbook Elena! You sure make those robust salads sound divine.