Heroing the Carrot

When my children were much younger, I ended up in hospital with viral meningitis. It was no fun let me tell you and it was a while (understandably) before I was allowed visitors. When people were allowed in, I was very touched by the gifts they brought but after all that time, there is one gift that stands head and shoulders above the others – a big bunch of carrots from my friend Shar.

Yep… a big bold beautiful bunch of carrots with the stalk and leaves well and truly on. It did the nurses heads in trying to find a suitable vase.

After a week of watching Yotom Ottolenghi on Masterchef Australia, I am all about heroing the vegetable (although I am not sure about heroing nouns that have been turned into verbs). And if there is a veg to hero it is the carrot.

Yotam Ottolenghi's orange-roasted carrots with rocket and ricotta
Carrot image from Yotom Ottolenghi

So began my trip down the internet rabbit hole (every pun intended) of the wide world of carrots. First stop , and as it turns out, best stop was The World Carrot Museum – the first virtual museum in the entire world dedicated to the history, evolution, science, sociology and art of carrots.

The museum confidently states the carrot is the second most popular vegetable in the world after the potato but I doubt a bunch of potatoes would be as pretty.  If you feel strongly that carrots should be number 1, you can always goes to ranker.com and give carrots your vote.

And how about the museum’s mission statement “ to educate, inform and amuse visitors through the discovery, collection, preservation, interpretation and exhibition of objects relating to the carrot”?

Where else would you find pages such as carrots and musical instruments, carrots and fine art, carrots and bodily functions, carrot collectables (including a carrot figurine from the 1960’s TV show Lost in Space where a giant carrot eats Dr Smith), carrots and World War Two, carrot trivia as well as a full rundown on every known carrot festival on the planet?

Seems there are two major sorts of carrots: the Eastern/Asiatic carrot (anthocyanin) and the Western or carotene carrot. This gives lots of different sorts of carrots shapes and colours.

Carrot Shapes.jpg
Image carrotmuseum.co.uk

When you dig into it, the carrot really is a beautiful and colourful creation. Researchers at the USDA Agricultural Research Service have selectively bred carrots with pigments that reflect almost all colours of the rainbow. Even more reason to give carrots as a gift or use carrot as inspiration for a vibrant wrap.

Carrot Colours
 Photo by Stephen Ausmus, USDA 

A review of carrot patterned gift wrap with lots of stylised little carrots didn’t excite me too much and felt a bit Easter bunny cartoonish, but real carrot images…that’s a different matter. I found so many with a lovely garden or vintage feel.

Carrot Types
Image Album Benary 1876 from carrotmuseum.co.uk

Now I know how I am going to wrap a garden journal  for my friend who has just started the most fabulous vegetable garden – in wrapping paper with fabulous botanical images. As an accompaniment, I think I will give her a big bold bunch of carrots too. After all, it’s all about heroing the carrot.

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