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Monday, December 24, 2012


Peeling Barsnips after Boiling 10 Min
Photo by: Lord-Williams
chirivín, pastinaca, L. Pastinaca sativa, Eng. parsnip (14th C word). Although a part of the carrot family, it has been called “white carrot” erroneously as the scientific name of the white carrot is Daucus carota. As the carrot, the parsnip is a native of Eurasia and has been cultivated since ancient times. The plant has a large, pale-yellow, fleshy, tapering root that is edible. It bares yellow flowers but only after the second year. It was used as food eaten during Roman deaths and funerals. Over the centuries, it has been consumed raw, sautéed or fried as a vegetable, boiled in soups and baked in pies for its sweet flavor.

During the Middle Ages, parsnips were consumed as much as potatoes today. Villena recommended cleaning and cutting it if eaten raw, peeling it if grilled or boiling it in meat broth. Parsnips were eaten in Al-Andalus especially in the winter. To eliminate bad breath the leaves are chewed. The seeds are sown in spring and the roots are dug up from November through the winter.

Mashing Parsnips Slices
Photo by: Lord-Williams
It is not advisable to let the plant grow a second season because the roots contain a large percentage of myristicin, a volatile oil, which becomes powerfully hallucinogenic and can lead to death. Myristicin is contained in nutmeg also. It is an antidepressant, amphetaminagenic and hypnotic. The oil, extracted from the parsnip contains ascorbic and folic acid as well. The thin long roots, seeds and leaves were used as a stomachic, emmenagogue, carminative and diuretic. Medicinally, the parsnip fell into disuse but today it is back for its chemical contents including protein, starch, pectin, essential oil, furo-coumarin and bergaptene. It contains almost two more times calcium as a potato and more potassium than salt, potatoes, turnips or carrots. A nine inch parsnip contains only 130 calories, no cholesterol or saturated fat. It has 6.4 grams of fiber, 46.4 mg potassium and 59.2 calcium, plus zinc, iron, vitamin C and vitamins B1, B2 and B3. Most important factor is that it contains 93.1 mcg of folic acid. This today, with the various vitamin B complexes, is being promoted to reduce heart disease and to prevent birth defects and breast cancer. It protects against pancreatic cancer and is given to those suffering from or potential suffers of Alzheimer’s Disease as vitamin B complexes are deficient in their organism. Further, it is good for arthritis, gall and kidney stones and skin disorders such as acne. [ES: “Common Parsnip” Jul 6, 03; Gázquez. Cocina. 2002:115; Stuart. 1987:235; Usher. 1974:442; and Villena/Calero. 2002:23a:40a]

For 6 persons


Avid Eaters Left no Time for the Photographer - 
So Yummy!
Photo by: Lord-Williams
1 k parsnips
2 qt mutton and salt pork broth
1 c ground almonds
¼  tsp ground cumin
¼  tsp ground coriander seed
½ tsp ground cinnamon
salt and white pepper to taste
½ c grated cheese


Make a mutton, pork or vegetable broth and bring it to a boil. Wash the parsnips and add them to the broth. Boil gently for 10 minutes and remove from heat. Strain the parsnips saving the broth.  When they are cooked, take them out and put them in cold water and Peel and slice them. If a heart is found remove it. 

Grind the almonds in a mortar. Put them in a bowl and pour 1 qt of broth over them. Let them sit overnight.

Heat oven to 350ºF/175ºC

Return the parsnips to the pot with what is left of the broth, bring to a boil and simmer 20 more minutes. Pour almond milk through a cheesecloth to make almond milk. When the parsnips are cooked mash them and make a purée by adding almond milk, spices and salt to taste. Put this in a casserole. Cover with grated cheese.  If making this dish ahead time freeze it now.

Heat the (thawed) casserole about 15 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the parsnip purée is warm.


  1. I really like your blog, but I am having trouble tracking down your source material. Can you give more details about where "SENT SOVÍ CXIII QUI PARLA CON SE FFA PASTENEGUA AB LET DE AMELLES, p 139" can be found? Is it available online somewhere?

  2. As far as I know no coy of Sent Sovi is on line.

    A copy of Senti Sovi is in the Spanish National Library, BNE 4/97291

    You will find it listed in my bibliography at the beginning of my blog:
    Anónimo. Libre de Sent Soví (receptari de cuina). A cura de Rudolf Grewe. Barcelona: Barcino. D.L. 1982. Presumably it dates from 1324. BNE: 4/197291.

    There is a book that claims to be about Sent Sovi but seems more fantasy then reality. Even I understand old Catalan better then that.

    When I got to the "S's" in my blog my explanation of Sent Sovi is:

    Sent Soví, Llibre de, Book of Sweet Taste. This is a Catalan recipe book. The manuscript is from 1324 but it is thought to have been written during the 13th C. It is one of the oldest Christian documents on this subject if not the oldest. The author is unknown. Two copies survive today. One is in the University of Barcelona and the other is in the University of Valencia. It has been maintained that this manuscript had the greatest impact on Medieval and Renaissance Mediterranean cooking and on Rupherto de Nola’s early 16th C Libro de Cocina in particular who repeats numerous recipes from the 14th C work expounding upon them in greater detail. Further Sent Soví provides the first treatise on the art of carving as opposed to hacking meat as elsewhere in Europe,which lead to greater refinement in dining. With variations, Catalan cooking continues to be based on Sent Soví with its wide span of recipes, flavors and culinary refinement. It is a composite of recipes of Arab origin such as pasta, rice, eggplant, almond milk, escabeche, sweet and sour dishes, nougat candy with founding elements of Catalan cuisines such as the picada and the sofrito. It had fundamental influence on all Christian European cuisines especially in Naples, Sardinia and Sicily, Aragonese dominated regions in Italy, Languedoc and Provence in southern France and Castile. [Anón/Grewe. 1982: entire. Martínez Llopis. Historia. 1981:155; and Martínez Llopis. “Prólogo” 1982:7-12:26]

    I do not use it often as being in old Catalan it is most difficult to interpret.

    Many thanks for asking - it is fundamental to Spanish cuisine,