Tuesday, February 28, 2012

In Praise of Gnarled Carrots

It should strike anyone who pays passionate attention to vegetables and how they taste as perverse and even cruel for supermarkets and certain governing bodies (formerly the EU, though they've repealed the ban on weird vegetables) to deem countless pounds of produce specimens as not fit for market due to their puny size or irregular, twisty forms.

It's a topic I've griped about before, but I return to it this time to say that this practice is particularly disgraceful when it comes to carrots. While I've been known to pass up a bunch of bananas due to the alarmingly aberrant curvature of one of their members (please do not take this where your mind wants it to go, I beg of you), I can, at the same time, be found lamenting the present state of conventional carrots and wailing when I get to the farmers' market and everyone's bought up all my favorite skinny, twisty carrots. This tends to happen to me mostly in Rio de Janeiro, where the organic farmers' markets occur separately from farmers' markets that offer conventional produce, and the organic markets are so small and intensely frequented that all the tastiest items sell out before I even manage roll out of bed.

For some mysterious reason that might have to do with habit and the benumbing effect of consumer culture, people at the regular supermarkets seem satisfied to purchase bagfuls of these giant, rotund, uniform sticks that are as hard as wood and taste like chewed up paper wads. I can see why supermarkets and mass carrot producers would prefer to ship and stock these invincible wood sticks rather than delicate waifs like the ones pictured above left--these tender tinies are much more likely to swoon and faint under the stress of long-distance trucking. But their crunch is so crisp yet yielding, so subtle in their variations of sweetness, so redolent of spring awakening, that I have taken to going carrotless for weeks rather than compromise on the endlessly disappointing orange batons permanently on offer at the supermarket. The last time I caved and bought these gross carrots to add to a soup or something, I ended up leaving the majority unused in the crisper until they half decayed into the slightly gruesome state you see in the picture to the left. If you live in San Francisco, then you probably can find sweetly gnarled carrots even at the most random of conventional markets, and this post may not even be relevant to you, you lucky brat!

That is all. I end my rant with a side-by-side comparison shot. Of course, what you'd really need is a taste test, but it seems important to note that not only do gnarled carrots taste infinitely better than these orange stubs, they are also waaay more attractive and weird in the most benevolent of ways, as opposed to those wooden abominations that offer us a case study in sinister-weird. Happy carrot hunting!


Anonymous said...

i was turning orange because of massive consumption of wood sticks so i placed a ban on them but you've made me crave the real deal! i'll find some yellow ones so i can have my carrots and eat them too

kale daikon said...

ah, yes, don't even get me started on the superior weirdness of rainbow-colored carrots. You should get one of those bunches with red, purple, yellow, and orange all together. If only I could find those in Brazil... waaaaaaah!