Being parents or guardians of little children, the most lovable yet tiring and troublesome phase is making them eat their vegetables. The beginnings of this battle with the “veggies” starts when they reach the toddler age, often progressing onto their years, even till high school and beyond.
“When a man is small, he loves and hates food with a ferocity which soon dims. At six years old his very bowels will heave when such a dish as creamed carrots or cold tapioca appear before him.” M. F. K. Fisher
With the advent of various art forms, school activities, newer recipes, extra seasonings and the magic of Bugs Bunny and Popeye the sailor man among others, have brought down the fervor of this battle. Among the various projects among play-schoolers to get them to eat their vegetables was observing special days like the International Carrot Day (4th April). While for the toddlers, activities range from supervised game activities, music, model art with play dough fun and costume art; parents have been tasked with preparing any carroty dish. Ranging from meal based recipes, of soups and main course (pies, curry, sandwiches) to snacks or desserts (“gajjar halwa”, carrot cake or sweet carrot tarts) and juices, the list of recipes is quite extensive. In the course of cooking, there was a couple of “carrot trivia” which make for an interesting read.
“Carrots are devine… You get a dozen for a dime, It’s maaaa-gic!” – Bugs Bunny
Belonging to the family Apiaceae, “Daucus carota”, whose common names include wild carrot, bird’s nest, bishop’s lace, and Queen Anne’s lace (North America), is a herbaceous, mostly biennial white flowering plant native to temperate regions of Europe and southwest Asia, and naturalized to North America and Australia. Interestingly both the words ” Daucus” and “carota” mean orange. Ironically carrots are not always orange, but can also be grown as purple, red, white or yellow variants. Known by the Ancient Greeks as “Karoto” with the plant called as Philtron or “Bird’s Nest”, they were initially grown as medicines, and later as food, also used as insecticidal agent as well. In fact, the Victorians had a carrot based recipe to destroy crickets especially as it was discovered that they were very fond of carrots. The mix was a paste of flour, powdered arsenic with scraped carrots, placed near their habitations.
The role of carrots go beyond the kitchen, with their part cited in the “Trojan War”. As far as legends go ( no documented evidence), the Greek foot soldiers who hid in the Trojan Horse were said to have consumed ample quantities of raw carrots to inactivate their bowels. However, this tale contradicts the fact that carrots are good for constipation. Being a mythical tale, did the soldiers of the Trojan War eat lot of carrots before the fight to clear their intestines and avoid any problems during the important moment ? Most likely, this apocryphal tale was conjured or circulated due to the Hollywood scenes, fiction writers or as a result of the “toddler veggie battles.” Yet their mention in literature is present with the Early Celtic citing them as “Honey Underground”.
“The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.” Paul Cezanne
The Wild Carrot is called Queen Anne’s Lace. The reason being Queen Anne of England wore a lacy headdress which some people thought resembled the delicate flower cluster of Wild carrot, giving it its more poetic name, Queen Anne’s lace.
One of the first vegetables to be canned commercially, carrots were marketed on a wide scale. Additionally tobacconists in France used to put a carrot in their bins to prevent their tobacco from drying out. With the progress of preservation and brewery, carrots today, produce more distilled spirit than potatoes. To add on carrot as a sweet snack food, try the “carrot pie flavour jelly bean.” As far as the future holds, carrots are here to stay with their in the market as “bio-fuels“, especially as the oil runs out. So going “carroty” is the theme for now, especially today with trying something “carroty” as a special treat.