One thing everyone kept telling me before I headed off to travel around northern Norway was that I would find it very expensive.
Expense: it’s all relative, right? After all, I live in one of the most expensive countries on the planet to start with. How much more expensive was it possible to get than the UK?
Answer: quite a bit.
However, even in the most expensive of destinations, it is usually possible to travel within a budget with a bit of common sense, careful planning, and the strict avoidance of any unnecessary fripperies. Such as parsnips.
At my local supermarket, parsnips weigh in at a perfectly reasonable £1.20 per kilo; in a supermarket on Væroy, the same root vegetable is priced at a frankly hefty 130 Krona per kilo, the equivalent of £13.00. And, as if to accentuate their value, each parsnip comes individually wrapped in cling-film, a packaging strategy, which seems designed to preclude the temptation of picking up more than one, and which simultaneously elevates the humble parsnip to the status of something rare and consequently in need of protection.
Previously, I had never given the parsnip a great deal of thought. I was quite partial to a few cut up and roasted alongside my sprouts at Christmas dinner; I didn’t mind the taste if I encountered it in a soup; sometimes I would go rogue and create a buttery parsnip mash as an alternative to potato. I certainly had no pre-trip intention of eating parsnips in Norway––herrings, perhaps; cod and halibut, almost certainly; parsnips, no chance.
Except now I wanted one. No, I wanted more than one. I wanted a handful. A full kilogram. Now I had seen how prized they were, I wanted as many as I could fill my face with.
You can keep your caviar and your foie gras. On Væroy, parsnip is the food of status.
© E. C. Glendenny
E. C. Glendenny attempts to suppress (with little success) her most base instincts.