Monday, 29 December 2008

More on root vegetables in translation

While eating breakfast in the wonderful Speisewagen of the Deutsche Bahn I was further edified on root vegetables to discover that Pastinaken (and not Patinaken as I incorrectly copied from various German menus in my recent post) are apparently related to but not the same as Petersilenwürzel (parsnips) - or is this just cheffy trivia that isn't actually true? Are there two types of parsnip? Can you really buy two different kinds of this supposedly similar vegetable in Germany? And why was this important piece of information only on the German and not on the English menu?
So by going to German Wikipedia I discover there may be as many as 14 kinds of parsnip. My personal hypothesis is that parsnips have for years incorrectly been called Petersilienwürzel, but there are two separate Latin names for the two veg Petroselinum crispum ssp. tuberosum and Pastinaca sativa ssp. sativa . As very few people in Germany really eat parsnips this lack of Gründlichkeit in vegetable terminology has hardly been noticed - except by "cheffy" types whose knowledge I admit I did at first call into question over the restaurant-car scrambled eggs.
Unlike more erudite bloggers who know what they are going to write before they post, my posting and research go on at the same time. The issue is now more or less resolved for me thanks to English Wikipedia's entry on parsley - my own culinary ignorance has been the problem all along - now I just need to find some hamburg root parsley to have a taste and see if they also can be roast.
Another type of parsley is grown as a root vegetable, as with hamburg root parsley. This type of parsley produces much thicker roots than types cultivated for their leaves. Although little known in Britain and the United States, root parsley is very common in Central and Eastern European cuisine, used in soups and stews. Though it looks similar to parsnip it tastes quite different. Parsnips are among the closest relatives of parsley in the umbellifer family of herbs. The similarity of the names is a coincidence, parsnip meaning "forked turnip", it is not related to real turnips
Admit it noone apart from me is even remotely interested ... are you? Oh how sad - no delicious spicy pumpkin, parsnip, celericac and carrot soup for you tonight, but we will enjoy ours! And all of these further thoughts on the humble but delicious parsnip were triggered by seeing the translation from the German into French on my Swiss parsnips today, yes you guessed the packet was inscribed racine persil. Anyway further parsnip recipes here and here.

PS. Dr B btw where is the much promised article using Mitropa as the metaphor for European history? I do think you need to join this group as part of your research.


Annie said...

Ooh this is interesting :-) Though I never understood why anyone would even want one sort of parsnip, so two or more seem to me quite unnecessary!

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