by Marion Nestle
Dec 22 2012

All you need is a rutabaga and a dream

I’m just back from attending the 15th annual International Rutabaga Curling Championship at the Farmers’ Market in  upstate Ithaca, New York.

This year’s championship event took place, as always, on the last day of the farmers’ market season.

Rutabagas, for the unitiated, are root vegetables of the Brassica family, most likely originating as a cross between a turnip and a cabbage.

Unlovely as they may be, rutabagas are just right for rolling down an icy lane (you can cook and eat them afterwards).

Before the festivities begin, the chorus does a quick rehearsal, this one filmed by a Japanese photographer for a reality show of unusual sporting events.  The program sent a crew to participate, making this a truly international event.

The event has its own original song, Joe Crookston’s The Rutabaga Curl.

But beyond the sport, the high point is always the sing-along rendition of the Rutabaga Chorus.   Its words are explained as the original lyrics for a tune later repurposed for Handel’s Messiah.

My favorite line: “Re-peat re-frain forever and eeeeever….”

Happy holidays!

  • Oh, how I love the quirkiness of Ithaca.

  • Another Sharon

    Oh, and the ‘baga fries are a once a year Ithaca Farmer’s Market ‘delicacy’ on sale during the competition only! Today was a great day for it. Fresh snow, Painfully cold. Makes me grateful the outdoor market season is over. Thanks for writing about the Rutabaga Curl.

  • I never knew it was a cross between a cabbage and a turnip, so is kohlrabi but they taste so different. In the UK we call rutabaga “swede” but “rutabaga” is definitely more comical. Rutabaga curling looks very fun, and much less dangerous than the cheese rolling we do here.

  • What a funny story. Just what we all need right about now. How long until this is an Olympic sport? Keep up the good work.

  • I love Rutabagas. Ok, I like them. Not bad with butter and salt. Never thought they would create a sport with them.

  • Anthro

    Thanks for lightening (and lighting) my holiday gloom!

    I love swedes (and Swedes)–I put them in soup, grate them along with turnips, parsnips, beets of various colors, and sweet potatoes, mix with a bit of flour and chopped onion and fry them (just a bit of oil) like fritters or pancakes. I bake them with all of the above and apples and spices too!

    Who says veggies are boring? Especially when you “curl” (with) them!

    I didn’t know rutabagas were a cross between cabbage and turnip either, but I love them all. The word comes from the old Swedish word Rotabagge, meaning simply “root ram”.