“You’re a total moron” I muttered, whilst feeding some fresh juicy carrots to our local donkey. This was said sottovoce, not to the eagerly munching donkey, but to the increasingly aggressive signora who kept wagging her finger at me, jabbing a plastic bag full of old white bread-rolls and repeating in ever slower and louder Italian “non dare carote agli asini, mangiano solo pane” (“don’t give carrots to the donkeys….they only eat bread”). Donkeys only eat bread?….what a total moron.
It wasn’t until I came to write this post, that I was enlightened – and enriched – by a certain Tim Cranmore (see below) of the bizarre fact that the Welsh name for carrot is ‘moron’….I love the Welsh! I could now say that I was feeding a donkey with fresh juicy ‘morons’ whilst insulting my tormentor as being a ‘total carrot’!
Life can be confusing – or fun, whichever way you look at it! And more fun can be had if you check out the Carrot Museum website – which I urge you to do: http://www.carrotmuseum.co.uk/. I had a quick play on the LEARNING pages making hilarious faces with Mr. Carrot Head (writing can be a lonely pastime), then hastily skirted the link to ‘BODILY FUNCTIONS’ before settling on MOST POPULAR PAGES. A surprisingly long list – I had no idea carrots were so popular.
Here I started with the more sensible ‘HISTORY OF THE CARROT’ and read about it’s Himalayan origins, followed by tales of the ancient Persian Purple, Dutch ‘Long Orange’ and the ‘Early Short Horn’ plus a history of famous carrot breeders who took the root from its wild beginnings to its domestication. Honestly it read like a history of rare-breed animals rather than a root vegetable.
What more could there be? Well…..yet another intriguing page…‘MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS’.
Oh surely not, I thought….musical carrots. But here you can indeed find photos and articles on carrots – and other vegetables – fashioned into flutes, pipes, you name it…and used as musical instruments in orchestras, most notably the LVO – London Vegetable Orchestra, I kid you not! And just the other day I saw here on Italian TV a Vegetable Orchestra ‘tuning up’ for the inauguration of the town of Matera as the European Capital of Culture for 2019. What can I say….I’ve clearly been living a very blinkered life.
If you’d like a quick listen to the sound of a carrot, and who wouldn’t, here’s a link to the amusing Tim Cranmore himself – a carrot soloist – or I imagine that’s his title. You’ll hear for yourself how the word ‘carrot’ is basically a similar sounding word in all languages – except in Wales where we now know the word for carrot is ‘moron’. Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4NIVAi9JrsQ
And now, time for a recipe I think! I initially wanted to make a Carrot Jam and found an interesting sounding one in an old Victorian recipe book, but reading to the end I was put off by the cook’s comment that it was “not very good….but better than nothing”! And so with that damning critique I came up with a totally different option instead….
RECIPE: CARROT CAPRICCIO: EASY ASIAN-STYLE SALAD of CARROTS, SEAWEED and EDIBLE DRIED FLOWERS
Capriccio is a musical term to describe a short, high-spirited piece of free-form music. And as we’ve been discussing the musical attributes of the carrot this name seemed appropriate for a recipe which takes a very short time to make, has a lively taste and is delightfully ‘free-form’ (as in just toss it all together!)
Preparation time: 5-8 minutes
Cooking time: 8 minutes
4og dried wakame seaweed
2 small carrots, washed (or peeled if they’re not organic) and cut into matchsticks
2 tablespoon olive oil
½ organic vegetable stock cube
150 ml water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons dried flowers
½ fresh lime
Soak the wakame seaweed in cold water for 5 minutes (or according to the instructions on the package). The seaweed will swell up and soften. At this point, drain well and put aside.
Take a wok or large frypan and heat the olive oil. Add the carrots and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes over a medium-high heat until they start to soften.
Stir in the drained seaweed and heat through, then crumble in the stock cube, water and soy sauce.
Lower the heat and stir-fry for about 4 minutes then add the dried flowers. Cook for a further 1 minute then remove from the heat and allow to sit for a few minutes.
Serve in small bowls with a squeeze of fresh lime juice over the top.