Parsnip panic

I offered to take my husband into work this morning, which was nice of me, sort of.  If truth be told, I may have had an ulterior motive.

Living in Australia, the traditional Christmas lunch with turkey and vegetables with Christmas pudding is not the ideal food to eat at lunchtime, so we have clung to the tradition by shifting it to the evening meal and having a brunch of scrambled eggs and champagne to keep us going to.

The matter of parsnips is always one that causes division. One of my brothers and I insist that you really can not get enough with the Christmas roast, whereas my mother thinks that a few parsnips go a long way, especially when there is a mountain of other vegetable to support the main event. The truth, I suspect, lies somewhere in the middle but in the meantime the battle wages on.

I did some vegetable shopping for the Xmas dinner the other evening when I was over, but the supermarket was out of parsnips so I could not load the menu by subversion.  Therefore I had to resort to hostile takeover.

Near to where I live is a very large shop called the Spudshed. It is one of a few in a chain and its aim is to sell vegetables cheaply and directly to the public by avoiding the interventions of an ominous group in Western Australia, known as The Potato Board. This group regulates the price of potatoes in W Australia for some reason that is completely unknown to me. You plant potatoes, grow potatoes and harvest them for sale. Potatoes grow in all manner of media, including tyres, why do they need mafia-style protection?

Either way, the Spudshed is set up not only as a massive warehouse of vegetables, but also a 24 hour one, so you can go there any time, any day of the week and enjoy the freedom of unregulated potatoes and other vegetables everyday of the year, including Christmas Day.

The only problem with Spudshed near where I live if the god-awful car park that services the shopping area where it is. There are a number of exits and entrances and uncontrolled intersections which mean that when it gets busy, cars lock into stand-off situations and the place is a nightmare to get into and, even more importantly, out of. So although the offer of cheap, unregulated potatoes is tempting, it is not enough to tempt me into the stressful carpark.

But perhaps at seven in the morning? Perhaps after I had dropped my husband off and walk the dogs, I could slide my car into the Spudshed carpark, which would be empty of dozy people, because they would still be in bed, and I could get some extra parsnips and secure a vegetable buffer which would mean no person would have to go without on Xmas day.

I left the dogs at home and headed up there.

For seven in the morning, it was quite busy, but manageable. I steered my car into a bay and made my way through the deserted courtyards to the shed of spuds. The place was packed, apparently there were a few other people who had the same bright idea as me to beat the crowds. As I negotiated my trolley around huge bins of watermelon and strawberry punnets in search of parsnips, I spotted a vast pile of butternut squash – tiny misshapen bulbs that the major supermarkets would not want, but which I was very happy to roast and feed to people.

I spotted the parsnips and loaded a few** into the trolley – Xmas dinner was safe. The drifted around the rest of the warehouse filling my basket with all sorts of unneccessary items, like bags of Turkish bread that smelt so fresh I could not resist them and trays of anti pasta that I had no reason to buy. I also bought some bones for the dogs.

I am not sure how much the emergency parsnips cost me – around $60 in the end, I think with all the other crap I bought, but we will definitely have more than the paltry four that my mother went out and bought this morning. My poor mother is currently catering to a household of people and has more than enough to do without worrying about paltry parsnips, so I have relieved her of that burden. I just have not told her about it yet.

** two or three kilos


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