Can turnip stardom upstage overrated pumpkin?

In case you are in denial about the approach of autumn or in a coma, it’s time to wake up and smell the pumpkins. These orange egomaniacs are encroaching on summer like Christmas usurps Halloween, making their flaming debut earlier every year.

I enjoy pumpkin pie and cookies as much as the next American who is addicted to sugary treats. And I love to light my spiced pumpkin Yankee Candle, pretending I have the ambition to bake pumpkin pie and cookies while sipping a Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale. But this year I  feel nauseated from this force-feeding of pumpkin flavored goodies.

I’ve been an advocate for humble, less show-offy vegetables, and realized that the September stage is ripe for a change. Move over pumpkins – there is a new vegetable that invested in acting lessons: the lowly turnip.

Photo courtesy Pixaby, edits by author

I scored this exclusive interview with Miss Ruta Baga, the first turnip to earn her equity card.

Don’t you think turnips are a joke compared to pumpkins?

When I googled ‘Trump pumpkin head’ there were 1,050,000 hits compared to only 256,000 for ‘Trump turnip head.’ Pumpkins are aligned with Trump four times more than turnips, yet the same people photoshopping Trump’s face onto a pumpkin would rather wait in line at Starbucks and fork over $12 for a Pumpkin Spice Latte than taste a turnip. I rest my case.

How do you answer the criticism that you are an all white vegetable?

People forget how diversified turnips are during the summer when our greens are on the menu. This delicious delicacy is as nutritious as foul tasting kale that boasts about its superfood status. And Ruta is a Hebrew name that means ‘friend’ so we also represent a religious minority, extending the root of friendship to everyone we encounter.

Some people say turnip doesn’t smell good enough to take center stage. What is your answer to this dilemma?

Have you ever smelled the performance of plain pumpkin without the benefit of makeup and wardrobe? I didn’t think so. You can add cinnamon and brown sugar to a lima bean and elicit a standing ovation, so I know there is hope for the turnip.

Do you think turnip can overcome its stereotype?

I’ve heard rumors that turnip has been typecast forever into a supporting role, but how much acting ability does it take to sit on a porch with a candle shining through a crude cutout? For a turnip to go beyond the boiled dinner and become a headliner is a giant step for root vegetables, something a squash could never accomplish.

How do you address concerns that you aren’t photogenic enough for the food industry?

I admit a photo of a field of turnips doesn’t have the same impact as hundreds of pumpkins lounging on a hillside, but when you think about how hollow they are with all that stringy goo inside, the rosy blush of a turnip is quite attractive. And you can’t deny turnips are much more slender, fitting into Hollywood culture better than the chunky pumpkin.

How can you displace the pumpkin in folklore and fiction?

I didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday. I know there is a lot to overcome. Children feed on a steady diet of deception; thinking their baby brother or sister was found in a pumpkin patch, fearing a witch will turn them into a pumpkin, and watching Cinderella’s carriage transform into a pumpkin at midnight. To make matters worse, they watch Charlie Brown’s disappointment every year when The Great Pumpkin fails to make an appearance. With stories as sad and scary as these, I’m confident turnips can indoctrinate our youth with more positive tales enticing future generations to explore the unlimited commercialism of the turnip.

Miss Baga called a halt to the interview, muttering something about an important meeting with Johnson and Johnson. She is negotiating a deal to introduce Turnip Spice Listerine breath strips into the market, providing a welcome reprieve from pumpkin flavored everything.

What are your thoughts about turning summer’s end into a turnip love fest? Are you ready to tell pumpkins to ‘Hit the road, Jack-o-lanterns?’ 

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47 thoughts on “Can turnip stardom upstage overrated pumpkin?

  1. Turnips rule! No one had ever heard of pumpkins in the U.K. (ok so I exaggerate) until we adopted all the Americanesque traits of Halloween. Now, there is no room for other vegetables in our supermarkets in October so turnips, along with all the other vegetables that weren’t lucky enough to be associated with a seasonal money making fest, have been banished to make room for these fat gloating blobs. Oh and then there are the aisles and aisles devoted to scary plastic tat from China… What I want to know is, did the cheap plastic Halloween tat you bought last year mysteriously DISSOLVE in the summer heat or something?

    • Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that the UK has adopted pumpkin mania, Gilly. I’ve rebelled against them so much I haven’t even gotten out my plastic China tat yet. I’m glad I can count you in as another staunch supporter of the lowly turnip!

  2. Adding cinnamon and brown sugar to a lima bean… Hmm. I’m not sure about that as a Yankee Candle but they’ve been known to do great things so who knows? New fall scent? But I’m inclined to agree. And the blush of a turnip is much more attractive than the gory goop we scoop out of a pumpkin. ? Gross.

    I love the turnips’ “roots” (the Hebrew meaning). Lovely. Of course, the pumpkin copied the turnip to begin with, being carved on Halloween to keep evil spirits away. Bit fat orange copycat!

    • I’m glad you see the pumpkin for what it is, Sarah – a hollow, orange, imposter. It will take time for the turnip to achieve its rightful place as a popular vegetable in late summer, but I know it is going to take on the quest with gusto!

  3. Finally! Someone is standing up for the turnip! I happen to love love love turnips of any size and any color. I believe in turnip diversity. I believe the pumpkin is overrated. Well, except for pumpkin pie. Perhaps we should create a turnip pie…?

  4. LOL! Great interview! But I think there are more vegetables who get squeezed out by pumpkin mania: Brussels sprouts, beets, kale, parsnips, I could go on. 🙂 Now I’m off to bake my pumpkin bread … 😀

    • You are so correct, Julie. I see Miss Ruta Baga as the pioneer to help other deserving vegetables take a walk on the red carpet. All but kale. Can you throw a little kale in your pumpkin bread and let me know how that tastes? Thanks for stopping by Shallow Reflections for a visit.

  5. You simply just crack me up, Molly! I have to admit that I’ve been using pumpkin spice flavoring in my coffee since August. I LOVE it! But I also like turnips and any root veggie because they all taste great and register zero on weight watchers points! I’m in the same predicament with Fall a distance away in terms of cooler temps, but it’s coming because there are three yellow leaves on my front lawn today. 🙂

    • How brave of you to confess this pumpkin spice travesty, Terri. I believe you can redeem yourself with your professed love of turnips and all the other root vegetables that are so oppressed. We’ve had some warmer weather but a bit of foliage color is sneaking into the landscape so I can’t stay in denial too much longer. 😉 Always love to get your comments.

  6. “something a squash could never accomplish” Ha ha. That’s for sure. The poor lowly squash will never compete with Ms. Ruta Baga. Now I have to run to the store for some Turnip Spice Listerine. LOL. Thanks for the laugh!

  7. What a hilarious post! Down here in Texas where the mercury is still hitting triple digits, I hadn’t thought much about autumn and the pungency of pumpkins. But, yes, they ARE highly overrated. Let’s give turnips a chance, I’m always rooting for the underdog.

    • I like your spirit, Sharon. And in this case rooting for the underdog involves a cheering for a root vegetable, tragically overlooked and under appreciated. Can you imagine how fast a pumpkin would rot sitting on the porch in triple digit temps? I’m sure a turnip would endure heat much better with its solid constitution. Love having you comment!

  8. Ugh. I am so annoyed by pumpkin everything. I just don’t get the mania over the stuff. I wrote a fictional post on the very subject a few years back. I’ll have to reblog it. Bring on the turnips!

    • Ooh! So exciting. I can see a barrel of laughs coming if all the root vegetables join the ruckus. Mr and Mrs Potato head have been pushing their children to bust into show business for centuries. I think that would help them get past the stigma of being associated with feasts and famines, don’t you?

  9. This post is hilarious! Rewrite “Turn! Turn! Turn!” to become “Turnip! Turnip! Turnip!” and you’ve clinched the deal. It could be sung by Smashing Pumpkins…

  10. My grandmother loved turnips. Clearly, I need to give this underrated vegetable a second chance. Pumpkin Spice you-name-it is getting on my nerves! Thank you for your thought-provoking essay.

  11. The poor turnip has, indeed, been given short shrift versus the heavily promoted pumpkin–proof of what clever PR can do. But we forget that Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater had a wife and couldn’t keep her–which smacks of a cover-up about the ill effects of pumpkin consumption. Exposing that could help the committee’s cause, doncha think?

  12. Molly, a laugh-a-sentence as always. Good stuff…as is pumpkin anything. You will have to convince me to love the turnip. Got any good recipes? Denise

    • The committee to convert America to turnip lovers is working now on a cookbook. I expect it to revolutionize the way we view the turnip in everyday life. It will be kicking creamed turnip to the curb (though it is delicious) and will produce candied and baked delights!

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