On being pro snow, plus what to do with too many parsnips

Even though I had to stand in it for forty minutes this morning waiting for a series of trains that didn’t come, and even though it took several hours for me to regain feeling in my fingers after standing outside watching Palace play out a thrilling 0-0 draw against Bolton on Saturday, I love the snow. It’s so pretty! Here is a photo my sister took yesterday in my parents’ garden:


The dog is always that handsome, but the garden definitely gains from being laden with snow. The other thing about snow is that – like a sunset, or blossom on a tree – it is all the more beautiful for being tinged with the anticipation of its loss. Beauty in nature is impermanent, which is why nature is more interesting than art – and, incidentally, why the French nature mort is a better name than the English still life, because when you paint or photograph flowers or fruit you are trapping them in an airless stasis which snuffs out their vitality at its very root.

Any fictional detective worthy of the title will tell you that snow is very helpful when it comes to finding out what people have been up to, and although I have no reason to believe anyone was murdered on my street over the weekend, I did spend some time this morning piecing together my neighbours’ overnight activity based on the prints they left behind. Someone in pointy shoes left the building before I did this morning, then turned around and came back again (the prints coming up the stairs overlaid those going down in places, you see). More unusually, a fandango of men’s footprints in some yellowish snow at the other end of the street made me wonder if we hadn’t been witness to some sort of Bullingdon-style initiation ritual in the small hours, but on reflection I think it was just a drunk man having a piss and staggering a bit.

I don’t want to leave you with a piss, so instead here is my latest culinary discovery – born, as is often the case, out of necessity rather than invention: parsnip chips. They sound boring, but they taste amazing, and I am not particularly a parsnip fan. But we had loads, so I had a look on the internet and found a recipe, of which this is an adapted version:

Take 1-2 parsnips per person (we had one each, but they were big ones) and chop them into skinny fries about two inches long and a quarter of an inch around. In a bowl, mix them with a big glug of olive oil and some crunchy salt. Heat the oven to 220 degrees, spread the chips out on a baking tray so none of them are overlapping and bake for around 12 minutes, or until the fattest chips are golden brown (it is fine if some of them go dark burnt brown; they still taste good). If your oven heats better at the back than at the front like mine, turn the baking tray around halfway through.

We had them with poached salmon (lightly boiling water with a splash of lemon juice for 5-8 minutes depending on the size of the fish) and green beans (steam in a sieve over the salmon), but they would go with almost anything. Despite my best efforts we still have loads of parsnips, so I might try a spicy version later this week. I will report back.

2 thoughts on “On being pro snow, plus what to do with too many parsnips

  1. mazylou

    You should try Delia’s Parmesan Parsnips, they are excellent. Also, parsnip and fennel soup is terrific, although I know that doesn’t sound likely.

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