Photo by tvol/Flickr CC
I can't say I'd ever have forecasted that I'd be feeling even the eensiest bit of excitement about the arrival of turnip season. As vegetables go (and I eat a LOT of vegetables) they're historically way down on the list of things I'd ever have sought out. It's not like I've ever been down on them--they're perfectly fine, but mostly I just used really as fillers or at best background and "beef" for stuff like soups, stews, meat pies, pastries, or that sort of product. That all changed last January in the town of Tebourba in Tunisia, which is when I tried this really simple but really memorable (for me at least) dish.
The dish is really incredibly simple, simple, simple stuff--just really good and something I'd never have thought of in two centuries if left on my own: Turnips sliced up and then dressed with the Mahjoub's very amazingly good harissa that's been thinned with a touch of white wine vinegar and olive oil. Sounded strange when he told us what we'd be tasting, but shows you what I know. It tasted great. Very refreshing. Spicy. Really good. So much so that I've been waiting for months for the local turnips to come in to the market.
As I alluded above this would be the first time in my life that I ever waited impatiently to see a turnip. It's not hard to understand why--mass-market turnips are generally very large, not particularly great and for, at least, hardly worth waiting on. But with turnip awareness turned up so high in Tunisia, I realized that what is worth waiting for and being excited about and eating a lot of when they're in season, are the heirloom baby ones. Reading about 'em everyone describes them as some version of "crisp," "juicy," and really good raw, all of which mesh nicely with my experience of eating them. Makes me realize why I never thought much of the commercial stuff--clearly the fresh baby heirloom varieties are way better for folks who are looking for full flavor.