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February 16, 2022


Glad you found some meat you wanted. I've never eaten turnips or parsnips that I can recall. I don't think my mother ever served them and I never gave much thought to cooking any myself since there were so many vegetables I like.

Hi, Joared--Good to hear from you.

We were, mostly, served straight-up veggies rather than having them blended in dishes. I suspect that the pure parsnips were the source of my problem. If I mix the veggies up as Roberta does (and as I normally also have done for the past 40 years), the parsnips will be acceptable - or, even, good! What a concept. I always liked turnips - especially raw. They taste much like cabbage or cauliflower, to me. (I learned that the sensations produced on a person's taste buds are highly individual during my training as a long-term care ombudsman. If a resident says that food tastes bad to them, I believed them. You could probably have taught me that.)

Husband had a new crown fitted this week so I thought I'd make soup for dinner, his favourite being spicy parsnip. Instead of making it up as usual, I found a highly recommended recipe and used that. I hated it! Husband thought it wasn't too bad but not as good as usual.

Liz--Ah, yes, that tooth of silver that you had mentioned ; )

AFAIK, the only spices that were used when I was a kid were salt and pepper - at least in preparing veggies. Roberta has mentioned spices in her postings on cooking of veggies, but I don't recall which ones. Me? I have a cupboard full of spices that don't get used as frequently as their numbers would suggest. What do you use in your spicy parsnips?

Results of parsnip venture:

There was, perhaps, a reason that I did not get along with parsnips as a child. When I cooked up the root vegetables, I noted that all the recipes online called for peeling the parsnips. That made no sense, to me, but I did it. I started the meal too late to eat as last evening's dinner, but before going to bed I fished out the largest chunk of parsnip for a try. The taste was neither great nor awful - more like bland and chewy. (I assume that I was timid with the spices.)

Four hours later:
I had a real bout - ending up lying on the floor of my bathroom because I was too light-headed to stand/walk. I did not call out for Hunky Husband because 1) he probably could not hear me without his hearing aids, 2) I was ill enough that I had no clue how he could be helpful, and 3) his dementia would lead him to obsess over a problem that he might not be able to solve.

Fast forward 10-20 minutes:
I was able to arise/walk, and on my way to the kitchen saw HH's blood pressure cuff. On a whim, I took my blood pressure - 122/54 - about 15 or 20 points lower than my "normal" range for the past several years but, since I'd never taken my blood pressure at Midnight, before, who knows whether it would usually be lower then? Water, water...I may be dehydrated.

I stayed up for about an hour, then returned to bed and slept until 15 minutes ago. Logging onto the computer, I looked for more recipes that used parsnips - mostly to kill time. While at it, I searched on "Why peel parsnips?" There were several informative postings (mostly from the UK), but the most concise answer is quoted, below.

"If the plant is under stress, parsnips produce a group of natural toxins called furocoumarins. Furocoumarins can cause stomachaches and other unpleasant symptoms in human consumers – they aren’t very dangerous, but they’re certainly unpleasant."

It may have been totally unrelated, but I certainly had the stomachache mentioned and other unpleasant symptoms (which I forgo listing). I may strike this off as an experiment and go back to eschewing parsnips. I can't prove that they were the culprit but I'm not anxious to do the research required to pin down the cause of my experience.

On my 40th birthday (more than 1/2 of my lifetime ago, now), I deliberately, and for the first time, tried rhubarb and beer. It turned out that I really enjoy rhubarb (just as Mother, who was proud of me for trying, predicted), but the very few sips of beer did not impress me favorably. With my now having tried parsnips, I can think of no food or drink that I've adamantly eschewed to this point of my life. Ah...the thrill is gone ; ) There's nothing more to which I may look forward ; (

3 hours later:
And now, the contact dermatitis has shown up on my right wrist. Such reaction had been noted in several of the postings about the effects of parsnips upon "unusually sensitive" people, but (as is always the case) my body was slow to react - if, indeed, the dermatitis is from peeling/handling the parsnip. I'll note that it takes me two or three days to react to poison ivy.

I always paid attention to patients complaints about food. Could be numerous reasons why they reacted so and could be helpful to find out what caused theirs. Often they were people on salt restricted diets whose food wasn't salty enough to their taste. Of course, as we age some people's taste sense diminishes which accounts for their reaction. Other issues can emerge, too.

You really had an event of concern. Now with the dermatitis it certainly begins to seem like the parsnips may be the culprits. I think I'll avoid them as too many other veggies I enjoy.

Joared--I agree that, with the whole world of other veggies to consume, one should avoid the one that is a potential problem child. I do, on a few foods, miss salt but that doesn't make the food taste bad to me - only bland. (For the past 40 years, I've pretty much cooked without salt and, when eating food prepared by others, avoided gravies and sauces. Not a big deal.)

I have noticed that, in the past several years, HH's taste buds have suffered. The only thing that always tastes good to him is sugar - go figure. I'm apt to announce that something is "too sweet", to which HH replies, "There's no such thing as too sweet." OTOH: He can't tell me whether something is too salty or not. He seems not to detect salt - on most foods. He is free with the saltshaker on boiled eggs, fresh tomatoes, and French fries...and that's about it.

In writing this, it just occurred to me that I have milder, but gastric reactions similar to those produced by the parsnips, when I eat more than a bite or two of chocolate. This effect has developed in the past five years. This is hard on a chocoholic ; ) Human systems change is the message, I guess.

My mother never cooked with a lot of salt so my tastes as an adult never required it. I've always avoided gravies and sauces. My MIL when she ate meals I cooked always made a point of pouring lots of salt on the food before she even tasted it after her first meal at our house. When she cooked fresh vegetables she turned the electric stove on high and boiled the heck out of them. She was very short in stature, grossly obese, and lived to be well over 90, died of cancer.

Sorry chocolate has become a problem for you. There were only certain chocolate items I ever liked and one I did not like was chocolate ice cream but I liked chocolate milk shakes -- go figure -- I don't know why. Yes, our systems do change every so many years a friend's doctor told her when in her older years she found she could begin to eat certain items to which she had previously been allergic, such as citrus fruits. She had been allergic to so many things they avoided eating out in restaurants. Interestingly to me was that I thought she was a marvelous cook.

HH's mother (a short, petite little thing) was like your friend in being allergic to many foods but being a great cook, Joared. Looking back, I can think of only a few veggies that she served, though - canned green beans seasoned with paprika, mashed potatoes, and canned sauerkraut over meatballs. My palet wasn't well developed since I was used to eating "normal" garden crops (green beans, corn, tomatoes, peas, onions, greens) either fresh from the garden or home canned - but nearly always a singular veggie with a little salt & black pepper. (Peas were always served creamed, if canned. Corn was on the cob if served fresh from the field.) HH still thinks that a vegetable must come from a can to be worth eating. He does enjoy fresh fruits, if I'll cut them up for him - especially if I will make them into a Waldorf- or ambrosia-type salad with nuts. (HH prefers fruit without skin, and I recall seeing Mom sitting there peeling peaches, although she would break out from the contact. I stopped peeling fruit for him about 10 years ago, enough being enough!)

I never knew of my having any sensitivities or allergies until well into my 50s. At that point I discovered a sensitivity to nickel - when I had my ears pierced. Ten years ago, or so, I started reacting to poison ivy - and I had tramped through fields of the stuff and worked at getting it out of our creek-side lawns since age 14. Five or six years ago, my PCP diagnosed my complaints concerning sinuses and throat as being produced by "seasonal allergies". I'm slow, as I wrote above.

I agree that vanilla ice cream is better than chocolate ice cream, and I make sure that vanilla ice cream is used in making chocolate shakes. I used to Jones for Haagen Dazs' vanilla chocolate chip ice cream which has been unavailable to me nearly all of the years since I stopped working in California (1990). HH prefers chocolate to vanilla ice cream.

Oh, dear! I'm so sorry that the parsnip got to you! I always peel them and always cook them before eating and I have never had trouble -- now I will know to warn people, as I do with cilantro.

Queen Anne's Lace is in the same family as carrots and parsnips -- and some people don't get on well with it at all. :(

I grew up eating a wide variety of foods, a lot of them grown in our own garden, carrots and tomatoes, kohlrabi and cucumbers, green onions. I tend to charge right into using unfamiliar or obscure veggies, just see what the cookbooks say and work from there....

Roberta--Thanks for your concern, but it's not as if you twisted my arm! Like you, I've never given a second thought to eating anything unfamiliar. I'm still not sure that the parsnip was "at fault", but I think I'll leave well enough alone. We used to pick greens from along highways, for goodness' sake, so you know that we didn't worry about such things in our family. I do enjoy reading about your cooking. As I've said before, I appreciate your approach - gay abandon. At first, I followed your blog because I liked your tech articles. Who knew you would be cooking?

I was unaware of any cilantro issue. I'll do a little research, thanks.

Well, that was an unpleasant surprise both that evening and now with the dermatitis.

I never reacted to poison ivy, having walked thru it many times while at camp as a child, clearing out some patches at the old house, and clearing the large amount at this house. Then 4-5 years ago I reacted on one of my forearms - not much for the amount of time I had spent in the PI. I started taking precautions and making sure I washed my hands and arms really well with Dawn, then drenching with rubbing alcohol, then using Dawn soap again.

2-3 years ago I reacted on both forearms when I cleared out invasive rose brush and other brush from the drainage ditch. I figured it was on the rose canes that I rolled into a bale, then picked up to put into the truck. I probably figured I would wash when I got home from disposing them at the dump, then forgot.

You, as we've previously noted, didn't fall far from the tree. Strange how it sometimes years/decades for a sensitivity to announce itself.

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