Editor’s note: Upon request of content from friends with the idea of recipes, Mark Goldwater asked Vienna Scheyer to send him the recipe of the Mashed Turnips they made during their trip to Cape Cod. This story was too good to skimp on, and I asked for more. Prior to making these Mashed Turnips, they had gone to a Turnip Festival. This is their story.
The Turnip Festival
Tell me more about where it was, when it was, why you attended, and how you all chose to attend this?
As our peers headed home for Thanksgiving break, we decided to embark on a Great American Pilgrimage. This time, though, we elected to break from the storied traditions of our forefathers and head Due East – more specifically, to Eastham, Massachusetts, to the Eastham Turnip Festival hosted by Eastham Public Library at Nauset Regional High School. We expected it to be a small event – we were not sure how many people lived on Cape Cod all season long, and we were even less sure how many of them would spend a beautiful fall afternoon in a high school gymnasium celebrating an underappreciated root vegetable. We quickly had that assumption turned-upside down when saw just how much traffic there was to enter the parking area.
Much like the pilgrims, we arrived at land that clearly was not ours and decided to push forward anyways – we parked on grass a short walk away from the entrance and followed the crowds of fellow turnip enthusiasts into the high school. We were kindly greeted at the door and were handed a schedule and map. Much like the high school itself, the schedule was packed – there were bands playing all day, a juggler performing for literally four hours in the auditorium, a turnip cooking competition in the cafeteria, local vendors, concessions, the “Turn Up Zone For Kids,” turnip games, and probably even more events that we could remember if we had not returned the map and schedule on our way out so the next festival attendees could use it. We started our day by checking out all of these events. At a table among the vendors, we even got to guess the weight of the enormous turnip (note that Google does not provide great results when you try to find the density of a turnip). We are still waiting on the call to confirm that we clearly had the correct value.
The highlights, however, took place on the center stage (half of the gymnasium) – there we got to experience the blessing of the turnips, the crowning of the turnip king and queen (the library volunteers of the year), and performances from a competition for song parodies with turnip-themed lyrics (hearing a turnip-themed rendition of ‘Wagon Wheel’ was especially painful). There were also opportunities to experience turnip line dancing and a turnip shucking competition. Truly a wonderful day!
The Turnip Blessing
Please write something here about the experience. Pictures are allowed if you don’t want to write something.
One of the most special parts of the turnip festival happened right at the beginning, with the blessing of a single turnip. A radio host from WGBH took the mic at center stage, held up a turnip with one hand, and with the backdrop of some wonderful instrumental music, freestyle rapped (or recited?) an ode to the humble turnip. We all cried.
Later, when trying to make mashed turnips in our home, we tried to recreate this blessing. While we definitely did not capture the beauty of the blessing we witnessed, we did replicate the emotional depth.
The Mashed Turnips
Recipe taken from The Spruce Eats and can be found by searching on Google, “The Spruce Eats Delicious Mashed Turnips.” Recipe was written by Molly Watson and rewritten by the contributors of this article.
Blessed turnips, a small amount of butter, and misc. spices.
First, bless the turnips. This is the most important step. We honestly just peeled turnips, cut them into cubes, boiled them for 30 minutes, added a small amount of butter and misc. spices, and then beat the shit out of them with a (washed) nalgene.