Friday, February 02, 2007

When Jeff picks the menu, it is usually roast chicken and potatoes. Which is fine by me, as roast chicken is easy and potatoes are even easier. It is also one of the few meals we eat family style, as it seems easier to just chunk everything you've roasted onto a serving platter. (Usually, for a family of two, it is just as easy to plate a meal as it is to use serving dishes.)

This week, though, I was fixing to get some potatoes from the Weiser Farm stand at the farmer's market when I noticed the crosnes. It was hard NOT to notice the crosnes, because first of all, they look like bugs, and second of all, there was a huge crowd gathered around them, and while the guy working the stand kept wanting to go back to talking about his carrots (did you know that they used to be black, carrots, and were developed in an orange color by the Dutch, to honor the House of Orange? This fact did distract people from ogling the crosnes momentarily, if only to ask what the House of Orange was. I refrained from making any nerdy comments like, "You know, William of Orange? DUH"*) and there were also cauliflower of every hue to gawk at, everyone kept asking about the crosnes. There was a big sign, explaining that crosnes are a tuber, and that you can eat them raw, saute them in butter like they do in France, or roast them, but the sign was not enough to get us all past the "what in the...?" gut reaction we had to the crosnes.

So of course I had to buy them instead of potatoes, and tossed them in the roasting pan during the last 20 minutes of roasting the chicken, so they got roasted in plenty of chicken fat/juice. And they were-- different. They are kind of like jicama in texture, and taste kind of minty, roasted. I still didn't know what they WERE, so I consulted every single French cookbook I have and none of them mentioned crosnes, much less sauteing them in butter. The Penguin Companion to Food had nothing on crosnes (and, as a side note, has NEVER had an entry on ANYTHING I have tried to look up in it. Is most useless food reference ever.). I kind of suspected maybe Weiser Farms was using its status to sell us all fossilized bugs, until I found a reference to crosnes in Harold McGee. They are apparently related to the sunchoke and contain an enzyme that we cannot digest and in large quantities will make us gassy, something I wish I had known before eating a whole mess of them, because the last thing a pregnant lady needs is to be more gassy.

All in all, I think crosnes are evidence that people like me are suckers for novelty food items-- hence Weiser Farms' ability to charge $16/lb for them. I imagine they would be good grated up like celery root in a remoulade, but so is celery root and it is a lot cheaper.

*is actually the extent of my House of Orange knowledge

4 comments:

Gwen said...

They had them at the Melrose Place farmers market, too, but without the helpful sign. They look so cool, but alas, I really dislike jicama, so we passed.

Also, I am so fascinated by the history of the carrot now.

Luisa said...

Huh - I think if Ben picked the menu, roast chicken and potatoes is all we'd eat, too. What's up with that?

Teri said...

When I first saw that photo, I thought, "WOW. Hannah should just quit her job and set up a gnocchi factory in her kitchen, because that is the most beautiful gnocchi I have ever seen." And then I read the post and saw that it is not, in fact, gnocchi - it is a tuber that can give you gas if you eat too much of it. Who knew?

(If they had crosnes at my market, I would have totally bought some. And, now I want to add roast chicken and gnocchi to next week's menu.

Deane said...

Re crosnes....You need to go to www.eattheweeds.com and look in the archives for $20 a gourmet pound, or go to You Tube and search eattheweeds and watch episode 01