So, wa-aa-ay back in this posting I had discovered the rutabagas, grabbed some, and was heading for the cash register posthaste, due to an incipient on-line appointment. As I stood at the register I watched the clerk either passing things over the bar code reader or (when things like produce had no bar code on them) typing them in by hand. Everything looked fine… except she apparently thought my rutabagas were some kind of beet! Wait, I said — weren't those rutabagas? She wasn't sure, so she held up the bag and asked an older register clerk working an aisle or two over. That woman assured us both those were indeed beets. Argh! I didn't have time to go swap them out for rutabagas, so I asked the clerk if she could please delete them from my purchase, and return the annoying veggies to the produce section. Sure! she said.

This is what I think of when someone says beets.

This is what I think of when someone says beets. No white bits!

They were all really quite nice and helpful, and I rushed home fast enough that despite being tragically rutabaga-less, I made my appointment on time.

Some time later I thought to check on line for pictures of rutabagas. I still wanted to buy some of the pesky things to substitute for the potatoes, after all — remember the carbalicious potatoes? So with a friend's assistance we perused rutabaga graphics… I mean, how many dirty white, roundish, purple-topped rooty things could there be, you know? After a while of staring at photos I embarrassedly admittedly to my friend: the cashier had been wrong. I actually had been about to buy rutabagas!

Sigh. Welp, off we go again — which is to say, I piled resignedly into the car, headed back, and bought the suggested four or so rutabagas. I was somewhat exasperated by this point, of course, since this was my second trip — but no worries! I had the elusive veggies in hand, and it was time to start cooking. I printed out the recipe, tucked it where it was easy to read in the kitchen, turned on my happy music, and began. First, get out all the ingredients so they're handy: the paper-wrapped chicken chunks, the hard-won plastic baggie of rutagagas, the package of onion soup mix, and the can of cream of mushroom soup: check. Next, layer the chicken chunks into the crockpot, with a nice mix of white and dark meat, just like I'd wanted — perfect. Next, wash the rutabagas, then set them on the chopping board to first cut off their little rootling tails and tops, then peel and cube them.

Four neatly lined up rutabagas, four neatly angled sharp chops, revealing four nicely gleaming interiors of striated white and red. Wait…


Definitely candy-cane — but also very nottarootabaga!

I confess to being quite nonplussed as I stood there staring at the root veggie's tail I was holding in my hand. I'd never heard of candy-cane-interiors on vegetables before! Was this even possible, or was it some kind of weird new hybrid? Back to the intarwebs…

As it turns out, there is something called a chioggia beet, which I'd never heard of before, which has a really dramatic, pretty, red & white striped interior. Huh! Learn something new every day, I guess. So I went back and chopped one up to see, and sure enough — very nifty looking! Hmm… should have turned the root around in the photo so the dirty white bottom half shows. Let's try that shot again with more light too…

…er, wait. I still have people to feed tonight! -which means… good heavens, I'm going to have to go back to the grocery store for damn rutabagas! Plus since I've already chopped the tails off the chioggia beets I can't exactly return them. I need a new recipe for them. No, wait, focus — rutabagas first, beets later!

So by now this is my third trip, and I am determined to not screw up this time! I lurk around the produce section until I find a clerk, and then I ask him to please specifically point out the rutabagas to me, as the signs are confusing. He's very kind as he does so, and agrees regarding the signs. We both have a snicker at my sheepish tale of beet-quest, and then I head off, firmly clutching the right elusive root.

THIS is a RUTABAGA, dammit!

THIS is a RUTABAGA, dammit!

Once I return home with the silly rutabagas it's easy, of course. Chop 'em up, toss 'em in, mix in the remaining ingredients, leave it to cook. The most trying part is re-calculating so the crockpot cooks on high instead of low, since by now I don't have enough time left until dinner is to be served. However, the food comes out savory and delicious, which pleases me greatly. As people are eating dinner, upon request I cheerfully regale them with the trials of my hunt for the wily rutabaga… a-a-a-and that's when almost everyone gets a dubious look, stares at their half-eaten plate of food that they'd been wolfing only seconds earlier… and unhappily says some variant of, "Rutabaga? I'm eating rutabaga?!"

Aaargh! I coulda smacked 'em all. ;-j

So. Moral of the story? 1) Buy your ingredients at least a day early, so you can ask if you're unsure, and so you know you really have what you're expecting! and 2) never tell folks what's in your recipes. Heck, if they insist, tell 'em they're eating monkey brains in orange sauce! They'll never believe you, of course, and there's the added side benefit that if someday you do actually serve them monkey brains — you're still safe. :)

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