The carrot quandary

(I originally posted this on my Culinate blog.)

“What do you think this is? A carrot or a beet?”

I was eating dinner recently at the bar of a nice restaurant with my Uncle Joe and my mother. The patrons next to us were prodding their side veggies—a beautiful medley of young carrots in a rainbow of colors—with a fork.

“Couldn’t be a carrot—too purple. Definitely a beet.”

Now, I know it’s rude to eavesdrop on and then interrupt people while they’re dining, but I had to set the record straight: the plate in front of the woman to my right was decidedly beet-free.

I leaned over. “It’s not a beet,” I said.

“What is it?” one of the women asked.

“It’s a carrot.”

I am no food scientist but I know a carrot when I see one. Heck, I can spot a carrot when it’s nothing more than green leaves poking out of the earth or wild roadside Queen Anne’s Lace. Carrots, much like garbage cans or telephone poles, are pretty much universally recognizable, especially when they are out of the ground, cleaned, stemmed, steamed and lying whole next to a roasted chicken thigh.

Or not.

“How can you tell?”

“It’s definitely a carrot. It looks like a Purple Haze. I grew them once,” I said.

“Really? How did you get them to be purple?”

I paused for a second. I had to be careful. I grew up in New York City, where trees grow only in designated holes in the sidewalks and produce ships in from California. In fact, I had a fear of plants (especially tall grasses and skunk cabbages—eww) until I was far too old to admit here. Believe me when I say that my green thumb is a relatively new development. I have no right whatsoever to be a know-it-all about this sort of thing.

But still. There are only so many ways to answer this woman’s question.

“I put the seeds in the ground,” I told her. “And they grew.”


6 thoughts on “The carrot quandary

  1. I’m growing purple carrots too! I’m so excited! I haven’t really started them yet, but I sure have stared at them a lot and read their directions over and over again. Waiting, waiting, waiting.

  2. I love purple carrots, but I haven’t had them in a while!! I will have to hunt some down. I may get brave and grow some too, if we can get our side yard de-weeded soon enough! Too cute, I tend to do the same thing, and usually with pleasant results. How happy that woman must be to know she wasn’t eating beats! LOL!!

  3. I have to say that I read this first on culinate and it totally made me laugh…. except that I didn’t even realizing that it was yours until I got to the end and someone had used your name in her comment… wait, I totally know Laura.

  4. We got purple carrots from our whatchamacallit farm last year. I forget the acronym. Anyway, they tasted like carrots but more so.

    I’ve never been able to just put carrots in the ground and have them grow. My lifetime production is maybe ten carrots the size, shape, and approximate taste of a highlighter pen.

  5. I hope the lady ate her carrots. I also hope she loved them and is telling her friends, “you’ll never believe it! I ate a purple carrot!” Imagine how she’d feel about blue potatoes. Or chiogga beets.

    I’m with michael5000 on carrot-growing success. Mine tend to be very woody and could double as bright orange golf balls.

  6. Well, carrots do not care for clay soil. Every place I have lived in the past 40 gardening-years has featured…clay soil! You can build a special trench and make a sand-soil-compost mix (not for the faint of wrist OR heart) or just plant short varieties meant for heavy soils. Myself, I just buy carrots when I want them. Sometimes it is the best route to circle around a boulder in your path.

Comments are closed.