Word has reached this hometown news desk that the little town of Piornal, in southwest Spain, has this thing about turnips.
Not to be outdone by our Yadkin Valley Pumpkin Festival in September, the Spainards have a Jarramplas festival in January.
The highlight is when the Piornalos get some brave soul to dress up with ribbons and a devil-like mask with horns. Then for fun the townsfolk chase the poor soul through the streets throwing turnips at him.
This past January they threw 18 tons of turnips, The Associated Press reported.
The AP was vague on the reason. Some locals said the turnip target represents a cattle thief from long-ago, while others said it’s a religious thing.
After all of the turnips are tossed, everybody gets together for a fun evening of music and food.
I found myself cheering. I am not a fan of turnips. I’ll eat about anything else before I’ll eat a turnip.
The thought of people pelting the devil, or his facsimile, with turnips — which obviously are an invention of his — brings warm satisfaction.
I don’t what it is. When Mom would cook up some turnips, the smell would fill the kitchen and turn my stomach. I’d try a bite and it would burn the tip of my tongue.
Thus over the years I’ve showed my contempt for the bulbous vegetable.
For instance, I’ll misname sports teams that I don’t care for after them. The Clemson Turnips. Has a ring to it, doesn’t it? Clemson teams even wear the purple of turnips.
My tussles with turnips has proved a boon and a fiendish delight for my live-in cook. She loves ‘em. She’ll wave turnips that she brought home from the store in front of me. She’ll threaten to fix them for dinner, and I’d better eat ‘em or else.
Then it finally happened. On a cold and dark night last December I noticed that she had on my dinner plate some cooked onions. She had cut them up to look like little French fries.
Since I love cooked onions I lit into them. They had some strange seasoning. She’s always trying some new, exotic spice or something.
Then as I became satiated I began slowing down on the onions. I began to study the new dish with the new taste. Finally I just had to ask, “What made you cook onions?”
“They’re not onions,” she admitted while trying to keep a straight face. My heart skipped a beat. I knew something was amiss.
“Do you know what they are?” she added.
I feared to guess.
Yep, they were turnips. I had eaten nearly an entire serving of turnips. I sat there pondering just what had I done to myself.
“So you like turnips now?” the cook asked. Silence.
“Can I fix them again?” Silence.
I haven’t seen any more turnips. But with the farmer’s market about to reopen in a month, I’d better be on the lookout.
And if she brings home more turnips, what am I going to do?
Ship ‘em off to Clemson. Proud home of the Turnips.
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.