I was browsing through my collection of old articles torn out of magazines. (Does anyone else do this or is it just me? I have probably an entire old-growth forest of old magazine tear-outs that I imagine I will one day get around to reading - along with War and Peace, A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu and Kevin Sheedy's cleverly-titled autobiography Sheeds.)
Anyway, I found an article about turnips by Simon Courtauld, who I must say is a great writer, just so you know I don't keep any old magazine articles about turnips.
Courtauld, a kind of forensic food historian (which I suppose would be a forensogustologist) writes that the turnip had been known from Roman times and was at one time regarded as an aphrodisiac. He quotes an unnamed culinary commentator as saying that the turnip 'augmenteth the sede of man, provoketh carnall lust'.
Well! Butter me up some turnips, slip into something more comfortable and put on some nice background music. And stop throwing valuable dollars away on oysters.
Aside from aphrodisiac qualities, turnips are also good to eat per se. Courtauld writes that turnips, being very good at absorbing fat, are ideal with lamb; while cooked whole, they are delicious with a sauce made with chicken stock, thick cream, chopped parsley and a little sugar. (Then again anything would be delicious under that lot, including tripe.)
He writes that in Scotland, mashed 'neeps' are offered with strongly-flavoured sausages such as venison; while in Ireland, they are fried in bacon fat and served with a few rashers. In Wales, a puree of turnip and potato is known as 'punchnep'. Courtauld himself recommends turnips cooked in butter with turmeric, cardamom, ground coriander and yogurt. Sounds good to me.
My favourite way to eat turnips? I wrote about it once.