Oh, have you two met?

We’ve all had that friend of a friend who we are introduced to six to eleven times before it’s accepted that we know each other. The awkward nod. The shared laugh.

Then there is the person who, no matter how many times you meet, never seems to remember you, although by this point you could write a fairly accurate intro to their biography.

Of course, there’s the surprise “Oh, you two don’t know each other!” Following an awkward introduction of yourself after an appropriate window for an outside acquainting.

Becoming acquainted is an interesting labyrinth of possibilities.

And we do tend to judge based on appearances.

It’s not exactly looks that keeps me avoiding celeriac, despite the numerous positive endorsements from friends and trusted professionals. Maybe it’s the first impression that I can’t get over.

I first met celeriac when she was going by “celery root”, back in Oregon. I was working at a bakery cafe on Hawthorne Boulevard and every morning we would get two soups from our commissary department across town. Soup was one of the food items we were allowed as our daily meal. Soup, all the bread we could eat and something like $5 worth of pastries. So, soup was important. A bad soup could really take the wind out of your sails.

This morning I was fated to meet celery root soup. Celery soup! Celery in a nice chowder, sure, but as the main ingredient? The other option was African peanut. Not that these soups are inherently bad, but when one wakes before dawn and bikes across town to make a few thousand dollars worth of sandwiches and breakfast before lunch, well, you do understand. These are the soups you don’t mind running into at a party every so often, but not at the table when you’re sick and run down and need some genuine company.

I split the difference and combined the two. Something like ants on a log in a bowl.

First impressions being what they are, it was no surprise when I met this root again at a farm in Amherst, I was still a bit stand off-ish. And it was no help that celeriac is a terror to regard. Though a cousin to the sharp-dressing carrot, it looks like the wild uncle or the madwoman in the attic. Above ground is a pleasant bouquet of parsley-like leaves, but harvest the edible root and avert your eyes! Warts and scab and endless hairy roots. The others who lived there in the farmhouse would throw it in with out roasted roots, and I may have tried a bite or two, but mostly tried to avoid it when helping myself to spoonfuls.

This underground organ will not let me be. It showed up last week, as I was designing share contents for our members. I generally will walk the field to see what’s ready and then consult a database of projected contents, based on what we put in the ground earlier in the season. My eyes widened. There it was under this week’s column. Celeriac.

So yesterday, we harvested a few hundred of them. We pulled a bed lifter through the bed to loosed and disrupt the elaborate root system. Pulling each one and “cleaning” by removing a lot of these roots and the green tops, is time-consuming. We got to talking. Another strain of celery knob enthusiasts.

We have so many friends in common. I suppose it doesn’t make sense to go on like this. This week I put a recipe for celeriac remoulade in our CSA’s newsletter, and recommended trying it in place of coleslaw. Just celeriac. Mayonnaise. Dijon Mustard. Salt and Pepper. I might get fancy and add some capers. Sometimes your own advice is the hardest to take. But it may be the best. We’ll see.



thanks to Ben Higgins for taking the celeriac picture at our field in Richmond, Vermont.