battle 13–day 2–kohlrabi

Even though I didn’t hate kohlrabi faux fries, they weren’t my favorite either. I figured I couldn’t really make a definitive call on kohlrabi after only one so-so night with it, so I decided to go for round two to see if preparing it in a more kohlrabi-ish fashion would help it act right and find a permanent place in my diet. What to do…what to do…

Fry it, of course.

When I was e-looking for the best way to fry kohlrabi, I found this awesome food blog created by a fellow Georgian, and decided to use her recipe for kohlrabi fritters because she said this: “I justify frying them as healthy because, well, they’re not potatoes.”

That’s right, my fellow Georgia blogger friend. They’re not potatoes, they’re kohlrabis.

We invited our friends Tom and Melissa B. over for kohlrabi fritter night. Tom is sort of an inconsistent naysayer, but a naysayer, I would say, of the worst ilk. I think he thinks conquering vegetables is a worthwhile endeavor and he’s even contributed some pretty great recipes to the project (the arugula sandwich was his idea, and it’s one of my favorites now), but he cannot understand why anyone in the world—other than my mom (hi Mom)—would read this blog. He goes on and on about the pointlessness of it all and wonders out loud way too frequently how anyone could possibly be interested in this, even though he’s never even read it. If any of you ever see Tom on the street, kick him in the shins. Melissa B., on the other hand, is a relatively consistent supporter who somehow manages to simultaneously teeter on the verge of naysaying (a fact I mostly overlook because I like her so much more than Tom. What? It’s not like he’s ever going to see this). She offers recipe ideas all the time (she rescued me from collard week with that amazing gratin), has occasionally been known to read the blog (the initiation of which she and her friends encouraged in the first place), and has found me when I was lost in the grocery store (more than once), but she largely detests most of the vegetables on the list and sends me little reminders about how awful each week will be. “Squash! Why did you have to start the project with the worst veggie of all?”

Still, they’re great friends of ours and we’ve shared some really good times over food, so when I know I’ve got something good on the agenda, I get them in on it. And I was pretty sure kohlrabi fritters were going to be good.

If only they were.

Melissa and I sent the boys out back to grill some meat, and she entertained me in the kitchen while I prepared the fritters. I really wanted them to look just like they did in A Hungry Bear’s photos but from the very start I deviated substantially from AHB’s recipe, I’d never fried anything on the stove before, and I’m pretty sure I heard my Fry Daddy beckon to me longingly (Juliiiie, Juuuuuulie), so I started taking bets from myself about how far I would get into making the fritters before I scrapped them and dumped the whole mess into my Fry Daddy. Fry Daddy Julie had a 2 to 1 advantage over Fritter Julie, but… I have a soft spot in my heart for the underdog, so I put my money on Fritter Julie and kept at it with the frying pan.

The main problem with the fritter recipe, as you may have noticed, was all the fucking onions. I mean, I think she had like 12 kinds of onions in there. WTF Hungry Bear? In considering a good substitute for the onions I went through my list of things that make vegetables better: meat and cheese. My dinner crew that night disputed that meat and cheese are equal substitutes for onions, but when I threatened to call them out as naysayers they changed their tune. Since we had a bunch of meat on the grill, I went with cheese for the fritters.

I grated the kohlrabi and some cheese, mashed it together, added some salt and garlic pepper, and formed some patties that looked suspiciously like potato pancakes. I pushed that thought out of my mind. I dropped those babies in the oil I’d been heating on the stove and started frying kohlrabi. And they looked great! Meanwhile the conversation around me occasionally turned to how much my kohlrabi fritters looked like potato fritters or potato pancakes. When we talked about whether cheese was the right idea, someone said, well when I make potato pancakes…. And when we talked about what condiment would go best with the kohlrabi fritters, someone said, well I don’t know about kohlrabi, but when I’ve had potato fritters….

Grrr.

In the end, my kohlrabi fritters looked a lot like A Hungry Bear’s kohlrabi fritters, even sans the onions. I removed them from the stove, laid them all pretty like on our plates next to some big hunks of meat, and we dug in. And then we all looked at each other, all four of us thinking the exact same thing. Kohlrabi fritters don’t taste anything like potato pancakes. Stupid kohlrabi.

I tried my best. I smeared a dizzying array of unlikely condiments on my fritter, I added more cheese, I drowned it in salt. But somehow the expectation or hope that it would taste one way made its actual taste that much more displeasing, like when beets didn’t taste like cranberry sauce.

Pretend Vegetable Lover But Really Fellow Vegetable Hater Melissa actually loved it. She kept calling it karabi. “I love karabi!” For the record, she also calls karate karabi, so I’m not sure she knew we were talking about the food, and I’m not sure she knew they weren’t potatoes.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s a draw. That was the last of the kohlrabi we had in the house and since it was such a chore to find it in the first place, I wasn’t sure I wanted to put energy into buying more. I mean, I fried it, what were the chances it was going to get better? I know not everyone agrees with Julie’s rules, and that’s fine for you, but since this was Swiss Chard Week No. 1 anyway, I’m just going to give myself a pat on the back for giving kohlrabi—a vegetable no one even gives a shit about anyway—another go and move on.

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battle 13–day 1–kohlrabi

I got home Monday night from my super awesome vacation and I was beat from all that relaxing, so I took Tuesday off and started last week’s veggie on Wednesday. I checked the list and discovered it was Swiss chard. I groaned. I already know I’m going to hate Swiss chard because it’s not cheese. I scrolled through the list to see if I could find something more interesting to look forward to. When I reached the end of the list I noticed that Swiss chard appears again in the penultimate (yeah, I said it) week of the project. Huh. This must have been what Nascar Patterson was talking about when he said one of the veggies was on the list twice; funny how I overlooked his comment at the time because I didn’t care (i.e., I couldn’t possibly have made a mistake). So, either I really had my doubts about Swiss chard when I set up the schedule and thought I needed to give myself two tries, or I made a mistake. Obviously it was because I had my doubts.

Then I remembered that I never was able to find kohlrabi during beet-and-kohlrabi week, and even though I was sort of stoked about skipping it altogether, I thought, grrr, maybe this would be a good time to try to find it again. So, Swiss Chard Week No. 1 became Kohlrabi Week Do-over.

I was still licking my wounds from the various pumpkin fiascos (…I might have left out the part about abandoning the cookies while the last batch was still in the oven…), so I sent David to the farmers’ market in search of kohlrabi. Really, folks, I know better by now.

And. He. Found. It.

I can’t tell you how excited I was, after weeks of this saga, that he fucking found it. And I’m using “found” in the strictest sense of the word—like discovered treasure—because it was neither in the area where it should have been stocked, nor was it spelled right, nor did anyone who works there know what it was (either in English or YDFM language), nor did the cashiers know what to charge him for it. David texted me with minute-by-minute updates and questions. “Are you sure it’s K-O-H-L-R-A-B-I?” I paused. Of course I’m not sure. It’s a vegetable I never knew existed before three months ago. “I’m positive.”

kohlrabi

Now that we had kohlrabi in our possession I had to figure out what to do with it. Kohlrabi, which Google says is German for cabbage turnip, is a member of the turnip family but it is most closely related to cabbage and cauliflower. It is usually light green, but the ones I got were purple, which brought back bad beet memories. Ugh. Beets. I was relieved when I cut into them and found a white, starchy center, not unlike a potato.

potato or kohlrabi

I decided to roast kohlrabi the first night. I peeled them and then cut off the “woody” exterior (I basically peeled them twice). Then I sliced them into French fry-like strips, tossed them in olive oil and placed them on a cookie sheet. I roasted them for about half an hour, stirring and flipping them every few minutes in the last 10 minutes. Then I added cheese and baked them for about five more minutes. They came out looking like cheesy fries.

cheesy goodness

Here’s the thing about food that resembles other food but isn’t. It’s disappointing. Kohlrabi has a white, starchy center like a potato, but it isn’t a potato. I cut it into French fry-like strips and they came out looking like cheesy fry goodness, but they weren’t French fries. We took a bite and it tasted….not at all like the food it resembled. It tasted like kohlrabi cut into strips and roasted with cheese on it.

I mean, it wasn’t terrible. It was totally fine. I’m just not down with food that pretends to be something it’s not. Be kohlrabi, kohlrabi. I think potatoes have the market cornered on fries.