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Looks like a turd, smells like an armpit

To be sung to the tune of “looks like a pump, feels like a sneaker.” (Uncle B says I perceive the world through advertising jingles, but he’s just squeezin’ the Charmin).

Anyhoo, this is his fault. He’s one of those guys — I’ve known a few, and it’s almost always guys — whose entire diet consists of peas, potatoes, bread, fruit and dead animals. No veg, no sauces or herbs, certainly no casseroles or stews or furrin food. It’s kind of the Grizzly Bear diet.

(Except he likes Chinese. Work that one out).

So when it comes to navigating my way through all the exotic food on offer here, he’s no damn help at all. One of the oldest and most pervasive being Anglo-Indian food.

That thing in the front is a bhaji, a deep-fried onion concoction. Pretty good, as you might imagine, but really does smell a bit arm-pitty. The other two things are samosas, which are little fried pastry packets full of spicy meat and veg. The pastry was nice, but the filling was heavily ginger. I like ginger, but not as a savory.

So, ummm…that’s it. Later, we went to a farmer’s market.

Any idea what I can do with a large rutabega? SFW suggestions only, please.


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: February 5, 2010, 8:10 pm

I should point out that my diet today has been extremely healthy. Smoked haddock with bread and butter followed by stewed fresh (forced) rhubarb.

Oh, and ice cream.

And vodka.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 5, 2010, 8:12 pm

Oh, right. Should’ve said drunken grizzly bear diet.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: February 5, 2010, 8:14 pm

Oh, and what Her Stoatliness hasn’t told you is that not only do those damned bhajis smell like Satan’s armpit, but they also, uh, produce a sulphurous by-product that could run a small town.

And farting like that is my job, damnit!

Comment from Gromulin
Time: February 5, 2010, 8:15 pm

What, exactly, was the rhubarb forced to do?

Comment from armybrat
Time: February 5, 2010, 8:26 pm

ummmm…..do I really have to point out that you moved to Britain and married a british dude? You know they’re the butt of the culinary world, right? It’s been said that anything worth eating there is imported.
/sorry Uncle B….it had to be said.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 5, 2010, 8:30 pm

Oh, NOW you’ve done it, armybrat. Thanks.

The food here — ingredients available, for example — is really quite excellent.

You can stop slapping me now, Uncle B.

Gromulin: forced rhubarb.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: February 5, 2010, 8:32 pm

My mother made a dish combining rutabagas and apples, topped with crumbly sugar topping, for Thanksgiving each year. It narrowly edged out the brussel sprouts with chestnuts as my least favorite food (and I’m next door but one to a vegetarian). I have never voluntarily acquired and cooked a raw rutabaga. . .[Not quite sure what SFW means in this context, so possibly this reply doesn’t qualify, in which case, my apologies]

I have a cookbook with some rutabaga recipes (Souffle! Chips! Something else I don’t remember!), but I’ve never actually tried any of them. If noone comes up with a viable suggestion I’m willing to scan those pages and send them to you, but you try them at your own use.

Comment from Gromulin
Time: February 5, 2010, 8:37 pm

Wow..the BBC can’t even write an article about rhubarb without throwing in an AGW hook. It’s the new Black…

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 5, 2010, 8:38 pm

SFW means I expected to be invited to do something physically improbable with my large rutabega, can’t hark.

Most suggestions are along the lines of cooking them and mashing them just like potatoes, so I reckon I’ll try that.

Lumme some brussel sprouts.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 5, 2010, 8:39 pm

Heh. I didn’t notice that, Gromulin. I used to say the BBC could work a George Bush joke into the gardening program, so that’s about right.

Comment from armybrat
Time: February 5, 2010, 8:51 pm

I remember the curry houses of London with much love. I can’t remember any other single meal I ever ate in the UK….but the curry…mmmmmmmm.
/BTW…the best curry I’ve ever had outside of London was in Woodstock NY. No shit. I had some good curry in Queens NYC, but the BEST was in London, the next best was a tiny little place in Woodstock.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: February 5, 2010, 8:52 pm

Ah! Thought it might be a reference to anatomical uses, but I wasn’t sure.

Yes, I suspect that cooked and mashed is probably the best starting place–like potatos, you can always add things to the mashed state to liven it up if necessary.

Funny thing about brussel sprouts. For years my response, when people ask me what kind of food I like to eat (meaning “what kind of restaurant should we go to”) when I’m visiting out of town has been “I eat anything but brussel sprouts and organ meats.” To the point where my younger brother suggested he might want to open a restaurant called (yup) “Brussel Sprouts and Organ Meats.”

And then, recently, I was buying apples at the farmer’s market, and there were these baskets of TINY brussel sprouts (from the tips of the stalk–they mostly sell BSs by the stalk), and in a moment of temporary insanity I bought a basket. And found some interesting things to do with them. And, well. . .guess my mother just didn’t know how to cook brussel sprouts.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 5, 2010, 8:59 pm

I love putting sprouts in soups, can’t hark. Then, when you find one, it’s like, “I got the prize!”

Out where we are, armybrat, you really can get splendid ingredients. We go to little family butcher shops and farm shops and artisan bakeries, so I have no complaints. It’s eye-wateringly expensive, but top quality. (Cheap diner food sucks here, but we don’t do much of that now we’re out of London).

Meanwhile, I’ve just had an intensely off-pissing realization. I’ve been putting off going back to the States to see my father for months and months. He lives in Nashville.

If I had scheduled it for this week, I could’ve gone to the Tea Party thingie and probably gotten press credentials as a blogger and seen Sarah Palin and everything.


Didn’t think.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 5, 2010, 9:05 pm

BTW…sprouts and organ meats reminds me of Walker’s Shoes and Cheese of Smithville, TN. Smithville was the county seat where I grew up. The Big City. Where I took my original driving test.

But it was a reader who did the internet search and found this picture. I forget who, dangit.

Anyhow, my mother always threatened to open Betty’s Socks and Crackers next door.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: February 5, 2010, 9:22 pm

I’d say something about taxidermy and cheese, but it seems to me that I’ve already said that in some past post on your blog. Scary, that. . .

About Indian food–I don’t know about what’s on offer in England. And I have this bad feeling that the various Indian restaurants I have experienced in the States are essentially the same as American neighborhood Chinese restaurants outside Chinatown(however good the food is, you’re pretty sure it is only tangentially related to what people of Chinese ancestry eat at home). But if they have any of the following, I highly recommend you try it:

Stuffed paratha: bread (same dough as naan) rolled in a circle, with stuffing plopped in the middle, then folded so it is sealed in, flattened and baked on a griddle using lots of ghee. I love palak (spinach) aloo (potato) and gobi (cauliflower).

Palak paneer: varies a lot, but essentially creamed spinach with chunks of paneer, a homemade cheese that doesn’t really melt. (I also like “cheese and peas,” can’t remember the Indian name, but it is peas with paneer and, oh, by the way, aren’t peas vegetables?)

Baingan ka bartha (more or less), or (as one of my cookbooks calls it) “eggplant smash”. Well, that name says it all. Got tomatoes. And, of course, spices. . .

Of course, you may already know all that about AMERICAN restaurants serving indian subcontinent food. . .Oh, well.

Comment from Lipstick
Time: February 5, 2010, 10:14 pm

I miss prawn crackers. There was a little Chinese takeaway on Leigh Street off Southampton Row and I practically lived on their Special Fried Rice and prawn crackers.

Oooh, off Oxford Street there was a place called Satay Stick…

Dang, hungry now.

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: February 5, 2010, 10:37 pm

A white friend of mine texted me and asked if I wanted to go to an Indian restaurant that opened up near him. Turns out, it was a self-described Pakistani-Indian restaurant that I’d seen a number of times and wanted to go to.

We went. I was quite worried. Outside of the local South Asian area half-an-hour away, I had yet to find a good South Asian restaurant. Most of them didn’t have really authentic food. It was all customized for American palates. I was also worried if my white friend would like the food.

The food, however, was very good. Very good indeed. Authentic. My white friend even enjoyed it. (I’ve noticed lots of white people get along okay with Indian food, not so well with Pakistani food.)

Our family – we don’t do Indian food. Only Pakistani food. There’s a difference. I don’t mind paalak paneer and stuff. But my favorite dishes are all Pakistani meat dishes – qeema, aloo qeema, qorma, gosht biryaani, shrimp biryaani, chaplee kabaab, pasande, seekh kabaab, gola kabaab, bihaari kabaab, kofte, chicken makhani. Some of these dishes are shared, but the spices in how they’re prepared are different.

That said: try the lassi. My favorite is sweetened lassi or mango lassi. And parathas are awesome. Unhealthy but awesome.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: February 5, 2010, 10:41 pm

OK–lassis I do (actually, I do an Americanized version for breakfast every morning) and they are the best. . .Don’t suppose you can point to recipes for any of the rest of that? I’m salivating like one of Pavlov’s canines, and I don’t even know what they are. . .

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: February 5, 2010, 11:47 pm

You eat rutabaga and rhubarb if you’re starving and that’s all that’s left (forced, as it were). I’m with Uncle B: meat, potatoes, bread, etc. are the staff of life.

/not a gourmet by ANY stretch of the imagination

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: February 5, 2010, 11:48 pm

Oh, and when I first saw the top of the page I thought it was a huge o’ turd. Yes, that’s what it looks like.

Comment from Lissa
Time: February 6, 2010, 12:10 am

. . . okay I’ve no idea what a rutabega tastes like, and I was going to suggest you shoot it full of holes, but that’ll have to wait ’til you come back to visit 🙂

Comment from jwm
Time: February 6, 2010, 12:40 am

Rutabaga is what they make you eat when you’ve been very very bad. Nothin’ remotely tasty about it.


Comment from EW1(SG)
Time: February 6, 2010, 1:48 am

I like rutabagas…but, like beets, turnips, and parsnips…they aren’t much in evidence about here. (At least, not fresh in the veggie section at a price that isn’t competing with filet mignon.)

Unlike turnips, parsnips, and beets-rutabagas are a bit of a starchy veg, more like potatoes (although beets can get a bit sugary). Make a good substitution for potatoes in some places, like the topping for a shepherd’s pie, or french fried. Mashed rutabagas with a dollop of Madeira, or a half cup of duxelles.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: February 6, 2010, 2:55 am

What the hell is a rutabaga when it’s at home? Is it like a swede?

I used to live in Bradford, the Indian restaurant capital of the planet. This is a city about the size of Albuquerque with the best curries in the world. You could hardly go thirty feet without bumping into a restaurant. Consequently quality and price was top-notch. Plus there was variety. Due to the ethnic make-up of the place there was a bias towards Bengali/Pakistani/Bangladeshi cuisines but if you wanted Balti or Goanese there were loads of places. The same kind of meal that costs me $40 here in Costa Rica cost $8 there (we do have some excellent, authentic Indian restaurants here but they very much cater to the carriage trade.) If you have access to a good range of spices it’s not too hard to make pretty good Indian food at home. I make a great Lamb Rogan Josh with boned shoulder meat. There’s something about the whiff of Garam Marsala that just makes my mouth water.

The myth about British food is one of those outdated stereotypes that are just plain lazy. It’s like the stupid canard about British dentistry: Britons have the best dental health in the entire developed world, according to the OECD, even if their teeth might not be that weird radioactive white that Hollywood types seem so keen on. I’m forty and have one small filling. My sister has none.

Oh man, all this talk of curry has left me starving. Jesus, I hate constantly being hungry.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: February 6, 2010, 8:56 am

It’s just the Americans showing off their long words, DG – a rutabaga is a swede 😉

This ‘British food’ thing is a bit of a meme and an irritating one. Back in ’50s, after the last war it was justified and there were fairly understandable reasons for it, too. Even as late as the ’70s it could still stink. But today there is almost no international cuisine you can’t get and the best food is as good as you’ll get anywhere.

Even if I wont eat most of it!

Part of the prejudice, I’m sure, stems from US service and media personnel based here during WWII and the aftermath (God knows what horrors they found when they left their bases) but at least half of it must be down to our own fashionable self-loathing. The moment Elizabeth David discovered France in the ’50s, it became the done thing (as distinct from de rigueur of course) to react to anything native as vile filth and anything with a French name with the sort of awe usually reserved for manna from heaven. And chips.

In the past ten years the focus has swung to Italy. Today, anything served with vomit-scented cheese, warm, soggy bread and herbs is a must for the Islington dinner table.

Me? I’m waiting till the Germans get their turn in the culinary spotlight. Or Holland.

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: February 6, 2010, 12:01 pm

My son and his lovely Norwegian lady have just spent a weekend in London and report that the food was quite good wherever they went, and since. They’re a couple of food snobs, that’s saying something.

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: February 6, 2010, 12:03 pm

How did that extra full stop get in there? Rascally iPhone!

Comment from Mrs. Compton
Time: February 6, 2010, 12:58 pm

MISS WEASEL!!!!!! Any chance for a Valentine boxer short zazzle thingie???

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 6, 2010, 1:01 pm

Hm. I just looked. Doesn’t look like Zazzle does underpants, Mrs C.

Comment from Mrs. Compton
Time: February 6, 2010, 1:06 pm

Armybrat, we’ll be in London in June, what places would you suggest? We’re trying to go down the cheap line for this trip since we’ll be there for a long time and the current exchange rate sucks and I’m sure it will suck even more by the time we get there!

Also looking for suggestions for Edinburgh and Paris, iffin anyone has some.

And I love me rutabaga’s, I just mash them and put real good butter on them, like that Irish crap.

Comment from Mrs. Compton
Time: February 6, 2010, 1:12 pm

Oh noes, I need to get my kid some cute boxers!! Not wanting to venture out into a ‘real’ store I’ve been looking online, thought for sure Macy’s or something would have them… but noooooo. Then I thought because he’s such a good little conservative that you could provide something. Rats, rats, rats!

Off to search more!

Comment from EW1(SG)
Time: February 6, 2010, 1:48 pm

Uncle Badger:

It’s just the Americans showing off their long words, DG – a rutabaga is a swede

Dang. I thought swedes came from Norway, or Minnesota or someplace like that.

And I agree that British food is suffering from a bad rap, leftover from the days when British recipes started “Boil the beef…”

British produce is terrific, and y’all have been doing some terrific things with it.

Which does not include imitating the Fwench or the Eyetalians. Let them mangle their palates their own way, for goodness sake.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 6, 2010, 2:06 pm

Hm. Eating mashed rutabega right this minute, and it’s pretty darned good. Goes a lovely golden yellow when you cook it.

And right this minute, the exchange rate is $1.56 to the pound, Mrs C. That’s actually pretty good. Best I’ve ever gotten in all the years I’ve been coming here is in the one-forties.

And, god, it was awful a couple of years ago, when it was two bucks to the pound!

Comment from FFFine
Time: February 6, 2010, 2:53 pm

You can eat the rutabaga, in thin strips on a veggie plate or in a salad, raw, use whatever dip or dressing you like. You can also thinly slice and use in scalloped potatoes, or au gratin, try layering in a lasagne, or shred thinly soak in your favorite liquor, and add to cakes or cookies, careful you dont start a fire. Do NOT try to make crisps or chips with it, does not work, tastes nasty.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: February 6, 2010, 3:07 pm

“Homely, comforting rhubarb crumble is a great British favourite, but rhubarb itself comes from more exotic plains.

Yeah, like my grandma’s garden in Colorado Springs. Other flora found only in that most exotic of places: Hollyhocks.

/FTBBC (which can’t even spell “favorite” right)

Comment from jwpaine
Time: February 6, 2010, 3:14 pm

My wife and I loved all the food we tried when we visited London. Except for the buttered kipper, which must be an acquired taste (unlike mayonnaise on your bean sandwich, which everyone instantly likes—unless they’re commie, al queda, gay, or all three).

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: February 6, 2010, 3:44 pm

I love rutabegas, boil em and eat them with salt and butter. Even cubed up its good stuff.

Comment from Mrs. Compton
Time: February 6, 2010, 3:47 pm

That’s the last time we were there Weasie, I had saved up all this money to buy cute little London goodies and ended up being able to afford a tea pot cause it all went to food! I looked the other day and was quite happy to see it at 1.60 but I have my doubts it will stay at that level.

Comment from Rich
Time: February 6, 2010, 4:52 pm

At the moment haggis are cheap, left over from Burns Night. I had haggis neeps and tatties a few days ago – that is mashed potato, mashed turnip (actually a swedish turnip, aka swede, aka rutabega, rather than an actual turnip) with mashed, spiced sheeps intestines. Aboslutely characterless to look at (three splodges of three dull colours) but tastes divine with a large dram of single-malt whisky.

I was going to mount a defence of British cooking, but realised the meal I just thoroughly enjoyed, while home-cooked to my own secret recipe (the secret is throw in a bit of everything that looks right) and albeit oven-cooked, was in effect southern fried chicken. However I make no connection with Black History Month, MLK day or the election of Obama, so it is not racist. Anyone care to try it I am happy to cook some fine traditional English food though!

Comment from jwpaine
Time: February 6, 2010, 7:19 pm

Of course blacks love fried chicken. Every-fucking-body loves fried chicken. Now that that’s out in the open, let’s move on.

Comment from Allen
Time: February 6, 2010, 7:48 pm

My favorite meal with rutabegas, from my grandmother. Lutefisk and mashed rutabegas. But of course the lutefisk must be made in the Finnish style using birch ashes, not that stupid Swedish lye trick.

Really, it sounds bad but it’s pretty good.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: February 6, 2010, 9:00 pm

I dunno. Lutefisk doesn’t sound like something you eat. It sounds like something you poke with a stick. And then run away if it moves. Screaming like a little girl.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 6, 2010, 9:02 pm

I’m frying chicken right this very minute, in the traditional manner of my Southern ancestry.

Though there is a somewhat racist angle here, in that most white people’s food (and, obviously, all black people’s food) was cooked by black people where I come from. Pretty much everybody but the poorest white folks could afford ‘help’ when I was a kid.

The unremembered result was that persons of color cooked our food and played with us when we were little and sat by our bedsides when we were sick and generally filled the same role that the beloved English nanny fills here.

Meaning, the idea that race relations in the South were nothing but toxic evil is complete revisionist bullshit.

Comment from Mrs. Compton
Time: February 6, 2010, 10:11 pm

Weasie, have you heard of the book The Help by Kathryn Stockett? It’s making the rounds here. I’ve downloaded it to my Kindle but I’m reading Physic for Future Presidents right now. Everyone I’ve heard that’s read it has really liked it, but not if you’re a Yankee, they don’t seem to get it. 🙂

Comment from David Gillies
Time: February 7, 2010, 6:47 am

There used to be a shirt from T-Shirt Hell that said something like, “Hey, I like watermelon and fried chicken too.”

Here’s a (very off-topic) thing, Weaseloids: did you know an iPod nano fits almost perfectly inside an Altoids tin? I was grossly dissatisfied with the available cases for my new precious toy so I rolled my own. It’s dead easy. I took pitchers.

Also off topic, but interesting nonetheless: it’s Superbowl XLIV this Sunday*, and Costa Rica is having a general election. The Left-wing candidate, Ottón Solís, is in a dismal third place. The front-runner is a very socially-conservative centre-rightist by the name of Laura Chinchilla. What is most surprising is that her main rival, Otto Guevara, is an explicitly Libertarian politician. He may well force her to a run-off. To give you an idea of how weird this is in world politics: it’s like if Ron Paul had scored 30% of the vote in 2009, and Obama had scored 10%. Guevara has tacked a bit more towards the mainstream in recent years, which may explain his new-found electability, but in terms of his party’s platforms, he’s more radical than any US politician with a hope of achieving high office.

* go Colts! Saints suck.

Comment from Nowhere, Kansas
Time: February 7, 2010, 7:53 am

Rutamoose is the only recipe I know for rutabaga: cook and mash 1 lb rutabaga and 2 lb potatoes, add some milk, cream or buttermilk, butter, salt and pepper. It’s not too bad for Swedish food!

Comment from jwpaine
Time: February 7, 2010, 11:00 am

DG: Costarricenses like to boast they have more teachers than soldiers (empty boast, I know, since they abolished their armed forces back in the ’40s); they may soon be able to brag about having more common sense than the gringos up north.

Comment from weirdsister
Time: February 7, 2010, 3:13 pm

Stoaty, if you like lamb, rutabagas are good in an Irish stew. I like parsnips even better, but rutabagas work in a pinch. Can get you the recipe if’n you want. =D

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 7, 2010, 3:19 pm

Thank you, but I can’t abide lamb, WS. Which is unfortunate (or maybe fortunate) on account of where I live. Anyhow, I finished the rutabegas, mashed with butter and a bit of potato (see Kansas, above) and it was lovely.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 7, 2010, 3:20 pm

Oh, dear heaven, this guy again.

I want to be him when I grow up. That is, provided I’m independently wealthy and can afford to be such a jackass to my employers.

Comment from Steve Harkonnen
Time: February 8, 2010, 11:37 am

Cut the rutabaga into large chunks and boil until soft. Remove the water and mash the chunks; add some cinnamon and butter.

Comment from Beyond Bibb’s Store
Time: February 8, 2010, 4:10 pm

OT, re: Dead Pool:

Damn, I should’ve picked Murtha….anybody have that windy waste of skin?

Comment from Schlippy
Time: February 8, 2010, 4:23 pm


Yeh I saw the news and rushed right over. Who picked fat-head?

And I can see people trying to stifle their comments already because he was a Marine. I still question that status on basis that he was happy to slime his fellow Marines with zero proof on accusations of war crimes.

And ex-military status does not make your politics impuned from criticism. See Juan McShamnesty, supporter of bailouts, McCain Feingold, and a myriad more.

Comment from Hotrodelectric
Time: February 8, 2010, 4:24 pm

SFW suggestions on what to do with a rutabaga? #sigh# That forces me out…

Schlippy- +100 on your comment regarding McAmnesty. I honor his military service. Not his desire to see another several million illegals made OK.

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