On Wednesday May 13, 2015 at 3 p.m., I wrote a note to myself on my iPhone.
One word: Kohlrabi.
I wanted to remember this word.
A day or two earlier, I was sitting in the Ascent library, my friend Mo’s office in Tzfat, working with him. He brings lunch each day. He had this thing that looked like a white waxy Turnip. It fit in the palm of his hand. I’d watched as he’d peeled it with a knife. Then he sliced off a piece and offered it to me.
This was new to me. (And that is one of the best reasons to travel!)
I liked it. Cool, although it hadn’t been in a refrigerator. Refreshing because it was moist. I could almost taste the water in it. It had a slight bite. I might call it a bit sweet. Certainly not sour. Easy to bite, chew, enjoy.
So I bought one, recognizing it by sight. The one I bought was double the size of Mo’s. I wanted mine to last through the weekend, through Shabbat. I loved it again — and had to remember the word so I could be sure to buy it again and again.
I love Kohlrabi!
It became a staple food for me and I highly recommend it to all. Especially travelers.
Kohlrabi is a terrific traveler’s food or backpacker’s food. Especially when you’re traveling with a good Swiss Army or Leatherman knife. :)
It comes in its own container, doesn’t need to be wrapped, doesn’t need refrigeration, is cool and refreshing and is healthy. Not a lot of calories, no fat, little sugar, a bit of nearly every vitamin, and a lot of fiber. (You can check it out for yourself at the USDA Nutrient Database.)
It could be and maybe should be refrigerated after it is peeled. I simply peel just the side I would eat. The next day I just peel off a thin layer of the site that had been exposed to the air.
I ate/eat it plain.
I ate/eat it in lieu of a cracker or pita bread with humus.
Now that I am at a friends house where I can mix up my own garlic tahini, I can have it with that.
It’s also good with peanut butter as it is so moist.
The third or forth time I purchased one at one of my two local Tzfat fruit and vegetable shops, I wondered it if was Jicama and that I was just not remembering Jicama correctly. I wondered if it wasn’t really a new discovery for me. A few days later I offered a piece to a friend (Chanah, I think) and said the same thing but quickly added that it’s definitely not the same. Now, having looked both up on Wikipedia I know they are not the same. In fact, Jiccama is a “starch root” while Kohlrabi is definitely a turnip family member.
Wikipedia.org says it can be eaten cooked. I always figured it could be, but I have not tried that yet. But I did just see a recipe for Roasted Kohlrabi and will certainly be trying that! There are many recipes for Kohlrabi online. Even for baked Kohlrabi Chips. (I think I’ll roast some garlic beside it
Where can you find Kohlrabi?
I discovered Kohlrabi in Israel where it appears to be well known. Wikipedia says it is from Germany — and was a man-made food cross. Because I had never heard of it, I asked my friends (via Facebook) if they were familiar with it.
It turns out that several people knew it from the United States. Melanie said her dad grew it in Pennsylvania — in a German community, but it wasn’t popular. Cathy knew it in NY! (And I was friends with her in those days, so go figure!) Jack says he sees it in a food co-op in the Twin Cities. A few others know it from different states in the US.
I read that it is used in the Kashmir region of India. I wonder… maybe I did have it before.
I am waiting to hear from people in other countries. And of course, I’d welcome hearing from you via comments so I can share this with all readers.