Turnip Troubles | Food News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Turnip Troubles 

Published August 10, 2007 at 2:04 p.m.

Right now, I'm fairly sure that the citizens of Wardsboro, Vermont (pop. <900) are wicked pissed at me. I accidentally slighted their favorite vegetable in one of my features last week.

Wardsboro, near the state's Southern border, is the home of the Gilfeather turnip, named after farmer John Gilfeather (1865-1944). Gilfeather developed and grew the crunchy white orbs during the early part of the 20th century. It's one of only a few widely-recognized and officially certified heirloom veggies indigenous to Vermont. In my Q&A with Gary Nabhan, I mistakenly transcribed it as a "gilliflower turnip." The black gilliflower is an heirloom variety of apple, not at all the same thing.

The folks in Wardsboro are so serious about their special root vegetable that they have an annual celebration in its honor. Vermont's Gilfeather Turnip Festival takes place at the end of each October. Admission is free, and so are the tasting portions of turnip dishes that are served between 2 and 4 p.m.

But their adulation goes even further. A turnip song? Yep. A turnip poem? You betcha. You can hear them both in this 23-minute video...

Gonna try cooking with GTs on your own? Here are links to a few recipes:
Gilfeather Turnip Soup with Spinach from the Four Columns Inn and Restaurant in Newfane
Gilfeather Turnip Soup with Sea-Legs, whatever that means
And a couple others.

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About The Author

Suzanne Podhaizer

Suzanne Podhaizer

Former contributor Suzanne Podhaizer is an award-winning food writer (and the first Seven Days food editor) as well as a chef, farmer, and food-systems consultant. She has given talks at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture's "Poultry School" and its flagship "Young Farmers' Conference." She can slaughter a goose, butcher a pig, make ramen from scratch, and cook a scallop perfectly.


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