Food & Drink

The Interpreter

This Is Salsify. It Is Not Salsa.

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Every so often, you come across a curious piece of menu jargon. It sounds familiar. It looks familiar. Maybe you’ve even consumed it a time or two. But what the heck is it, really? Great question.

Sounds like a job for The Interpreter.

The word: Salsify (sal-suh-fee).

Its origin: From French salsifis, derived from Italian sassefrica, derived from Late Latin saxifrica, roughly meaning “rock to rub.”

What it refers to: A long, thin Mediterranean root vegetable with thick skin, creamy flesh and absolutely nothing to do with salsa.

Not even a little bit? No.

Where you’ve seen it: Restaurants that use the word “foraged” extensively; a farmers’ market you got lost in.

How it usually appears on menus: Browned with butter; glazed with fruit; roasted with fish.

Fun fact for dinner conversation: “Salsify is also known as the ‘oyster plant’ or ‘vegetable oyster’ due to its oyster-y flavor.”

Appropriate response: “I’m not sure how to feel about that.”

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