Thursday, April 5, 2012

People and Planet CSA - April 5, 2012

Purple Top Turnips, Noir Long de Pardaihan &  Student parsnips
What's in the bag?
Misticanza - Radicchio and lettuce mix with lots of fun things, Purple Top Turnips,  Lacinato Kale or Swiss Chard,  Navets - Noir Long de Pardaihan,  Student Parsnips, Broccoli, Cauliflower of all kinds,  and Purple Passion Asparagus (last for the season).

This week's special gifts, Cider Mustard and Olive Oil from Oil of Paicines.  And Pumpkin Bars. 

Oil of Paicines took the Gold in LA again!  Need more?  Mike carries it at People and Planet

 It's getting hectic here!

The sprout house is so full, I've made a half warm bed to hold all the sprouts in.  Only 10 days till the last frost, so I'm seeding like a maniac.

Lovely root crops this week.  This is the first time we've had the black turnips.

Le navet de Pardailhan (Black Turnip)
Pardailhan is 30 kilometers west of Béziers, the hills rise up in steps to the Avant-Monts chain, which reaches 800 meters. Here there are no longer vineyards nor olive grove. In the space of just a few kilometers, you leave the Mediterranean scenery behind and pass through pastures where cows graze and oak and beech forests.  The absence of vines can be explained by the altitude and the climate: clouds rising from the Mediterranean are easily trapped by the Pardailhan heights and fog is frequent.

These conditions—rain and plenty of fog—are ideal for turnip cultivation, which needs (navets are said to “drink from their leaves”). They are ‘broadcast-seeded’ at the beginning of August on well-worked land, one kilo of seed per hectare, and then await the rains, which usually arrive in the second half of the month. Pardailhan turnips are white inside, black on the outside and covered with numerous small roots. 

At the table, navets de Pardailhan are beautifully tender with a subtle, sweetish flavor. Many people who say they don’t like turnips are converted by them, bowled over by their delicacy. They can be prepared in many ways: grated raw and tossed in a vinaigrette, sauteed in butter and a little sugar, or in soups and gratins. They are much sought after on the markets of Narbonne and Béziers, the closest towns, though the scarce quantities on sale these days make them somewhat pricey.
Julia the Weeding Goddess

Only 165 people live in Pardailhan. The ones who still cultivate turnips can be counted on the fingers of one hand and not one of them do so as their main occupation.  A rare seed indeed.  Enjoy them, this is not an item you can purchase at any grocery store!

Julia is my neighbor.  She is an expert flower gardener and has come to help.  She's whipping those beds into shape and no weed is left standing.  This morning she came and set out marigolds.  There's so many more flowers to plant.  Not to mention vegetables!

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