The Ugly One

Day 13 - #WorldWatercolorGroup Celery Root Celeriac, turnip-rooted celery or knob celery

Today’s prompt is celery and so my mind immediatley jumped to one of my favorite winter root vegetables. This odd little food has earned the nickname of “The Ugly One” because of its bizarre, almost alien look, but it’s proper name is celeric (also known as celery root, turnip-rooted celery or knob celery). It’s used quite often in Europe, and the first record of it being used as food was in France in 1623. Here in the States, it never quite gained the same popularity, so it can be hard to find and expensively priced once you do. But as with many things, looks can be deceiving, and this ugly root is delicious and packs quite a nutritional punch.  A shame that it’s been judged unfairly on its looks and relegated to the shadows here. So, I decided to celebrate Celeriac Day today, and give this little underdog a chance to shine.

Last week I was having lunch at a delicious local vegan restaurant called FüD. What I love about this place is that they’ve reimagined comfort food in much healthier versions. I opted for the Mac N’ Trees on this visit, but was curious about their hot sandwich called a Jack Reuban. Rather than corned beef, it’s made from corned jackfruit. I had to google it to find out exactly what it was, and as it turns out, it’s gigantic and totally bizarre looking. On my next visit, I’m determined to try it. And what’s more, I’m curious now about all of the “ugly” fruits and vegetables that exist on the far corners of cuisine. In many cases, I’m sure they’re delicious and perfectly wonderful. It seems sad that they’ve all been judged so unfairly based on how they look.

When I was a kid in gradeschool, I was chubby and wore thick glasses. I wasn’t one of the cool kids and I was extra geeky so I didn’t fit in well with the popular kids. By the time I entered high school, I had dropped the weight and looked closer to what one might call handsome. Suddenly, people who never gave me the time of day were talking to me. I was, of course, absolutely thrilled at the time, but looking back it seems all wrong. My personality hadn’t really changed. Why hadn’t they noticed me before? That’s why I feel personally connected to this odd little root. I know what it’s like to be the ugly one. So for my totally made up holiday of Celeriac Day, it’s not simply about a root vegetable. It’s about looking past what you see and finding the wonderful new experiences you might have missed. But truly, there’s probably no harm in living like that each and every day.

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About the Doodlewash

Sennelier L’Aquarelle:  Indian Yellow, Phthalo. Green Light, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Deep, and Payne’s Grey. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon with sepia ink in a little red cloth hardbound l’aquarelle journal I found in a Paris shop.
 Day 13 - #WorldWatercolorGroup Celery Root Celeriac, turnip-rooted celery or knob celery
Profile photo of Charlie O'Shields
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
Published in By Charlie
27 Comments
  1. callmetrav 8 months ago

    This is beautifully written. Sometimes we overlook people and things in life that don’t catch our eye for their beauty, but if were to take the time to look beyond the surface we would realize the beauty that’s held within. I feel that inner beauty is more important than outward beauty. Outward beauty is a plus but not a necessity.

  2. Susan Feniak 8 months ago

    Intriguing veg indeed. Nicely rendered Charlie. Glad to learn something about celeric, the ugly one. I may not pass it by the next time I am looking for something new to try or cook.

    • Author

      Thanks, Susan! 😃💕 yay! I definitely recommend it… it’s delicious. Philippe makes a celery root and mashed potato mix that’s fantastic!

  3. Maybe ugly, but delicious, I love celeriac, and I love your doodlewash

  4. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 8 months ago

    Every day I find something to think about on your blog and today is just another wonderful day at Doodlewash. First, a beautiful painting of celeriac – and I think it”s quite beautiful.

    Then an article about beauty and what’s really important. Our society places way too much value on surface beauty when we should be considering quality – whether people or veggies. When you realize that many people thought of as beautiful are surgically enhanced, it makes you look for substance instead.

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕 I’m glad you enjoyed this post. Yeah… the idea of beauty has become a little misguided. Substance and reality are definitely better by far.

  5. Laura (PA Pict) 8 months ago

    Your painting is the most delicious and appealing I’ve ever seen celeriac look. There is only one vegetable I absolutely will not eat ever and that’s beetroot but celeriac is its closest contender. I eat it if forced to out of politeness (something I just couldn’t do for beetroot) but I really would rather not. I know other people who adore it so I guess it’s one of those love-hate veggies.

    • Author

      Thanks, Laura! 😃💕 Hehe… yeah… a lot of root vegetables end up in the love-hate camp. I admit that growing up, I turned my nose up at most of them, but now I’m a huge fan.

      • Laura (PA Pict) 8 months ago

        I believe our tastebuds change over time. When I was a kid, I would only eat green veggies if they were raw but at some point in my mid to late teens I started to enjoy them cooked. Maybe I just gave in but maybe it was my tastebuds adjusting.

  6. Jacob 8 months ago

    Well, you certainly made it look attractive in your doodlewash! But perhaps that’s me being able to empathise with this poor vegetable too. Lovely muted greens. This unfortunate deception rather reminds me of the durian, which has a foul smell but apparently tastes delicious (and maybe a candidate for doodlewash?) Indeed, it truly is what’s inside that counts! 😉

    • Author

      Thanks, Jacob! 😃💕 hehe… yeah… the durian is definitely a similar one. I’ve never tried it, but am intrigued to. The fact that people say the smell it’s overwhelmingly pleasant or disgusting, depending on who you ask makes me want to try it and see which camp I fall in!

      • Jacob 8 months ago

        Yeah, same here! And if it tastes as good as is reputed, all the more worth a punt!

        “Its odour is best described as turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock.” Mmm….

      • Author

        Yak! I think I just threw up in my mouth a little… 😊

  7. Jill Kuhn 8 months ago

    You made this veggie look rather appealing, Charlie! 😊 I can’t say I’ve ever had it but now I will look for it in the store!

    • Author

      Thanks, Jill! 😃💕 Yep… definitely one to try. Mixing it in with mashed potatoes in my fave… tastes great, and adds a lot more nutrition to the mix. hehe

  8. missyjean 8 months ago

    Yes! Truly many people are unsure or even assume veggies must taste bad if they have less-than-stellar exteriors. Thus one is gorgeous…..quirky with playful shapes. And I appreciated your observations here 🙂

  9. Ellie 8 months ago

    As always, your words are a wonderful reflection on our lives. I’ve seen celeriac in my grocery store, but never gave it a thought for cooking. Maybe I’ll see what I can do with it. Mostly, though, I’m trying to get my head around corned jackfruit. I have had a lot of jackfruit, but I can’t imagine what this version could be. I hope you give it a try!

    • Author

      Thanks, Ellie! 😃💕 I’m glad you enjoyed this post. And do try this little veg… it’s really good! You’re right… I can’t get my head around corned jackfruit either so I’m anxious to try it!

  10. 😄bizarre 🎻funny ⛄️

  11. Laurence 8 months ago

    I like a lot celery and I didn’t know it was named the ugly. A little piece of it makes any soup a particularly delicious one, for that you can take the celery leaves too. But not too much because it’s strong and it can make forgotten the taste of the other vegetables. In France, we eat it grated with mayonnaise. I like it but too much mayonnaise for me.
    I read a study that revealed that “beautiful” peoples have many more probability to find a job than “not so beautiful” or ugly one. It’s awful ! Even if one is more appropriated for a job, it can be taken by a less “ingenious” but more beautiful people. Human can be weird !!

    • Author

      Yeah… I don’t like a lot of food covered with too much mayonnaise. We typically have it a little more pure. But, yes, unfortunately, that study is indeed accurate. Looks do matter… yet some of history’s genius minds are not much to look at. 😉 Humans are totally weird! lol

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