17 Comments
Jul 22, 2022Liked by Fiona Beckett

I will confess to having been a bit of a sceptic until a few years ago - on the basis it was boring rather than disliking it - but a few recipes changed my mind. First, a Barton Seaver recipe from his brilliant book Where There's Smoke, which combines thinly sliced celery with parmesan, pecans and a lemon / mustard / maple syrup dressing, and then an article in the much missed Lucky Peach regarding celery more generally. I've been trying to paste an image of the Seaver recipe into this post in case it's of interest, but have failed miserably so far. I'll keep trying.

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author

Oh that sounds awesome. Thankyou! Will try and track it down too!

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Jul 22, 2022Liked by Fiona Beckett

Turns out the app allows you to scan text. So no photo but here we go anyway.

Barton Seaver’s Crunchy Celery Salad with Parmesan and Creamy Lemon Dressing

Celery is mainly used as an aromatic for stocks, but I have found it can be a compelling ingredient in its own right. The vitality of its crunch, the cool, unyielding flavor, and its generally amiable nature make it a valuable staple to have on hand at all times.

The key to this salad is to slice the celery as thinly as possible, preferably with a mandoline. The dish is delicious just the way it is, but I have also spiked it with thin slices of smoked shrimp and loved it. Smoked mussels, clams, even smoked chicken would make nice additions as well.

Serves 4

1 bunch celery, tough outer stalks discarded and ends trimmed

2 tablespoons roughly chopped or torn fresh

flat-leaf parsley

¼ cup chopped pecans

Juice of 1 lemon

2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard

2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 ounce Parmesan, cut into shavings with a vegetable peeler

Slice the celery as thin as possible on a slight bias. Do not discard the inner leaves from the heart of the celery, as these are packed with flavor and aroma. Mix the celery with the parsley and pecans in a medium serving bowl.

Mix the lemon juice, mustard, maple syrup, and olive oil in a small bowl. Season with a pinch of salt and whisk to combine. Pour the

vinaigrette over the celery mixture and add another pinch of salt. Toss to combine and divide the salad among plates. Garnish with freshly ground pepper and thin shavings of Parmesan. Serve at room temperature

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Oh wow - that sounds SO good! Going to have to give it a try!

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Jul 20, 2022Liked by Fiona Beckett

To me, raw celery has a strong distinctive flavour that is quite unpleasant and that clashes with other flavours. It’s a surprise to see it described as not tasting of much. I wonder if, as with broccoli and coriander, your reaction to it depends on your ability to detect a particular chemical. I don’t pick up broccoli’s sulphur compound or coriander’s saponins but I shall never be fond of celery. Adding acid or something hot makes it less overwhelming, but that’s all.

The sense of taste varies as much as our visual and aural acuity, but somehow we tend to expect everyone to taste things as we do. I wonder why

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You're right. Lynne and that is perfectly possible though it seems, as you suggest, to relate more to raw celery than to cooked. The basis of this series is the presumption that people would rather not be limited by their dislike of certain foods and be able to find a way round them. Maybe you're one of those who can't be converted though, in relation to celery at least

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Jul 20, 2022Liked by Fiona Beckett

Cooking markedly tones down the strong flavour that I find unappealing. It’s not strong enough to stop me eating the stuff raw to be polite, but certainly strong enough that I’m surprised that some find it flavourless. I can’t help wanting to know why experiences differ so markedly.

I’m lucky that I actively like many of the common aversions - offal of all sorts, raw herrings, strongly flavoured fermented or aged foods, slimy textures and more. Which was very useful when I used to travel for work and could eat many esoteric local specialities with enthusiasm, and the rest politely provided they didn’t involve live fauna

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Well that’s a lot more than most people would eat! Who needs celery then 😂

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Have just realised that It’s the way celery interferes with my ability to taste other things that makes me unenthusiastic

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Jul 21, 2022Liked by Fiona Beckett

Digging around I cannot find any research on celery, flavour and genetics. But the world definitely divides into those for whom it is fairly tasteless and those, like me, for whom it has a very strong and distinctive flavour which we dislike more or less vehemently. I’m at the less extreme end of the disliker spectrum, but I generally enjoy bitter, which is a frequent description

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Maybe that's it. I always thought it was coriander that fell into that category but maybe celery too

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Jul 21, 2022Liked by Fiona Beckett

Yes, coriander does, depending on how strongly you detect its saponins. Also broccoli (sulphur compound). In both cases there’s believed to be a single gene responsible for whether or not you detect the chemicals, which seem to be plant defences against insect attack

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Jul 20, 2022Liked by Fiona Beckett

I'm quite a fan of celery but have never tried it with peanuts... I'm thinking that even with my very recently lost sense of taste ( Covid of course) that the textures will be good in Meera's wontons? I really do love the way your recipe round ups do all the research and internet trawling that most of us never get around to.

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Jul 20, 2022Liked by Fiona Beckett

can't forget the iconic ants on a log!!! lol

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😂

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Definitely for the raw celery and peanut butter together - just leave off the raisins!

I love celery particularly in noodle salads with tahini/peanut butter dressing - the herbal crunch is the perfect contrast.

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No, not a big raisin fan either - not with celery at least! 😂

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