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C Is For Celery

c is for celery

Yes, you could say that I have taken a bit of a minimalist approach to the Eating Your Words Challenge.

When the call was put forth by Tangled Noodle and Savor The Thyme to write or spell something using food or drink, a multitude of things raced through my mind. Should I bake letter-shaped cakelets, freeze some icy vowels, spell something delicate and spidery using vermicelli, pipe out some sugary iced messages or just buy a tin of alphabet spaghetti? Others, I could see, had been very creative in response to this edible poser.

In the end, however, I cheated cast aside the elaborate preparations that were formed only in my head, got out my finest kitchen knife, applied it to the contents of my vegetable drawer, et voilà. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you C. For celery. A vegetable that comes with its own initial. All quite self-contained, see?

Celery

So what of celery, then? A vegetable that is mostly water, some fibre, not much fat or protein to speak of and a good deal of Vitamin C (there’s that letter again). To describe it thus, however, is to miss the interesting stuff about celery. Let’s see…

The Ancient Greeks thought enough of celery to use its leaves as laurels for crowning their esteemed athletes, while Homer (that’s the poet, not the Simpsons character) mentions wild celery in both The Odyssey and The Iliad. The Ancient Romans used celery as a seasoning and also considered it to be an aphrodisiac. You can make your own mind up as to whether there may have been a connection between these two facts.

It was only much later though, during the 17th century, when celery-the-food really started to come into its own, thanks to the French, who started using it as soupstuff. Celery now occupies a place of honour as part of the triumvirate of onion, carrot and celery that, when chopped up and sautéed together, constitute the classic French mirepoix, the jumping off point for any number of stocks, soups and stews.

Celery also participates in another mighty threesome, buddying up as it does with onion and bell pepper to form the cornerstone of many Cajun and Creole dishes.

It is endlessly versatile. Use the stalks raw or cooked in any number of ways (well, except maybe boiling – as it says in D. G. Hessayon’s Vegetable & Herb Expert, “there are many ways of cooking celery but boiling is not one of them”). Use the leaves like parsley. Use the seeds to season. Use the root of some varieties (celeriac) for gratins and mashes. Here, in amongst the Spud archives (am I really around long enough to have archives?), it has been used thus far:

It has most certainly not, however, been used as a dessert. I found reference here to the fact that, before the incident with the volcano, the folks in old Pompeii were given to eating a dessert of roasted celery, honey and ground pepper. So of course I had to try it out. Let me just say that it was frankly a little strange as a dessert and perhaps, like much of Pompeii, best left buried.

21 Comments

  1. Michael from Herbivoracious served an apple-celery sorbet at the dinner he hosted in January. It was a palate cleanser, not a dessert, but it was sweet and very good!

    I actually have a ton of celery in my fridge right now, despite only needing one stalk for the recipe I bought it for.

  2. Long live celery and the minimalist approach to Eating Your Words! I use celery all the time in stocks and broths and in both mirepoix and The Trinity. Great stuff (and yours is very green and lovely) :)

  3. It takes a creative mind to slosh past all the garbage and see things at their simple best. I salute you! GREG

  4. hahaha – love it, sometimes simple is best.

    I would like to add for consideration, the school snack of my youth: Ants on a Log

    The log = celery
    The stuff the ants stuck to on the log = peanut butter
    The ants = raisins

  5. very cool :) i love the mock tuna salad idea! celery is awesome – it adds such a nice, refreshing crunch to so many of my favorite recipes.

  6. I’m with you on the celery dessert thing…not good.

  7. I see a sea of C’s and say, “Spud said celery stalks and seeds are certainly the stuff of sensational sustenance.” I agree.

    Thanks so much for participating. Your entry is all about food’s ‘natural’ language – it didn’t need much manipulation to get a message out! 8-)

  8. Very clever! I love celery and always keep it stocked in the fridge. It’s so versatile, as you have shown, and healthy too!

  9. How could this piece of celery be so green? Lovely picture!! Indeed, I keep my celery in the freezer when I need a bit for a stew or for soup!!

  10. When I saw the picture I thought – What a beautiful picture of celery. Then I read on and laughed. This is a great entry to the challenge! Simple, yet something most of us would have never thought of.

    While not the healthiest of options, celery always brings to mind spicy buffalo wings and blue cheese sauce for me.

  11. So simple so creative! Actually, I’m surprised to see them as green as green apple. We don’t have such celery here. We generally use its root and leaves. But not as green as these, so I understood what these are only when I searched in google images. I love celery root and generally use it in stew with leek and cabbage. Here is its recipe if you like to see (http://www.giverecipe.com/celery-and-leek-stew-recipe.html)

    Also, I love that historical part about celery.I read both legends of Homer, but didn’t pay attention to this celery detail. Thank you.

  12. Daily Spud

    Saturday, March 7, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    Other Tiger: that apple-celery sorbet sounds positively intriguing!

    Jenni: it’s noble stuff alright

    Greg: thanks kind sir, and as I said on your own blog, I salute you for your rockin’ tribute to mirepoix, guaranteed to have them rolling in the aisles!

    OysterCulture: love it! you realise that I am going to have to try some ants on a log now :)

    Heather: I love celery for exactly those refreshing and crunchy reasons

    noble pig: yeah, nuff said (though the sorbet idea mentioned by The Other Tiger warrants a look)

    Tangled Noodle: thanks – would you belive I almost used “A Sea of C’s” as a caption on the second photo, but didn’t in the end (guess I was letting the food do the talking, though, having seen Greg’s video, I have a whole new vision in my head of food talking!)

    gaga: welcome! it’s a good veg to have stocked in the fridge alright

    Natasha: thanks!

    Sophie: thanks & it’s always good to have some celery around if soups or stew are on the menu :)

    Lori: thanks – it was a great challenge and I’m looking forward to seeing the full round up

    zerrin: not all of our celery is so green, a lot of the time, the stuff we get here is quite pale, but sometimes I get celery with my organic veg delivery and it’s usually greener (and tastier!). As for Homer, you have one up on me in that you’ve read those classics. The reference to wild celery I believe uses the Greek word selinon.

  13. How about celery with peanut butter in the middle with raisins on top!! I love it, so simple but so good! Love your blog!

  14. Like many of your readers I love ants-on-a-log… I know many europeans don’t understand the american obsession with peanut butter, so this is delicious with cream cheese instead of peanut butter to.

  15. Love the picture, you minimalist, you!! Great post, and tasty info too!!

  16. I agree with my friend Greg…even though ‘minimalist’ you have truly thought out of the box! ‘C’ongratulations!

  17. Minimalist or not…that’s a great green picture!

  18. I love it! You let the celery ‘speak’ for itself! Very clever.

  19. Daily Spud

    Monday, March 9, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Stacey: ah, those ants on a log again… :)

    gastroanthropologist: I am now going to have to try ants-on-a-log, both the peanut butter and cream cheese versions!

    Chef Bliss: thanks!

    Chef E: …or thinking out of the refrigerator drawer, as it were :)

    Duo Dishes: it’s all about being green!

    Reeni: thanks, celery has a voice now, lol

  20. [The views expressed in this comment do not reflect the views of The Daily Spud but, hey, we believe in freedom of expression for celery lovers and haters alike – ed.]

    We at the League for the Suppression of Celery ask that you cease and desist your shameless promotion of the Devil’s Vegetable. Apparently you have not fully realized the little-told dangers of this agricultural abomination.

    There is a vast conspiracy afoot to keep the truth unheard, but we beg you to educate yourself and help stop the madness before it’s too late.

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