One of These Veggies is Not Like the Others

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong …
– Words and Music by Joe Raposo and Jon Stone –

You will recognize this ‘One of These Things‘ song if you spent any time watching Sesame Street. My photo today is going to demonstrate this song, so go ahead and start humming. First, I’ll explain why I chose these four items – they are roughly cylindrical in shape, and they are all in my kitchen right now.

One of them, however, is clearly different. Have you chosen which one? My pick is the mystery vegetable – the white one that looks a bit like a fat parsnip. But it isn’t a parsnip, and I really don’t know what to do with this newcomer to my kitchen.

There is a disconnect in our house between the food that is purchased and the food that is cooked and served. This is to be expected, I suppose, when the buyer is one person, and the cook is the other.  Most of the time I figure out what to do with the groceries The Car Guy comes home with, but this week he brought home this white root that isn’t a parsnip. Fortunately he remembered  that it is called a Lobok. I’m not sure how well Lobok will fit in with the rest of the food in the kitchen. It is said to be radishy, and that isn’t my favourite flavour.

The banana, however,  could be the thing that isn’t like the others because it is the only one with a sticker on it.  I normally don’t pay any attention to the sticky labels on some fruits, but while I was working with this photo I realized what the label actually says. If I didn’t already like bananas, the sticker would make me feel much more inclined to have a few in a bowl on the counter. Very cheerful.

But what about the spaghetti squash? It is odd man out too, because it is the only one with seeds inside it. I like spaghetti squashes because they are the sort of thing that can sit on the counter for several months and still be as good tasting as the day they were picked. They don’t threaten to expire if they aren’t used within a few days of arriving at my door. The downside to the squash, in my opinion, is that it takes great muscles and a knife the size of a machete to get one open. I have to be feeling particularly brave to tackle a spaghetti squash.

This leaves the carrot. By virtue of the bright orange colour, it could be ‘not like the others’. I’m very fond of a good carrot, particularly because it is very simple to eat. It doesn’t even need to be cooked. Not much waste to it either. Very easy to grow – willing to cosy up to all sorts of other foods without being overbearing, yet willing to stand alone when required.

Now that I’ve spent a bit of time pondering the vegetables and fruits in my kitchen, I’ve come to the conclusion that this Sesame Street song isn’t really very nice. While it is quite appropriate to point out all the wonderful ways that one thing differs from another, it seems very wrong to suggest that these differences mean that something doesn’t belong. I have therefore made a promise to The Car Guy and the Lobok that I will find a way to make this radish wanna-be feel at home until such time as it gets eaten (or dies a natural death in the fridge crisper.)

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33 comments

  1. Hi,
    I have never heard of a Lobok, if it is used you will have to let us know what it tasted like. 🙂
    You just have to love the sticker that was on the banana, that is very clever.

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    • I eat a lot of bananas and I am ashamed to admit that I had never bothered to read the labels on them before. Imagine my surprise when I saw what it said!

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    • My photo doesn’t show it very well, but the lobok has the same epidermis as the carrot. I suppose all it will need is a good wash, which is all I ever do with carrots. I’m too lazy to peel carrots – I figure if I wash them well, a bit of clean dirt won’t hurt me! So far, so good.

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  2. I picked the lobok. Good on “Car Guy” for taking a risk on buying something different! However, that is exactly why I rarely let my hubby do too much grocery shopping on his own. He has been known to also bring home some strangers and it creates work for me to try and find a way to use it and not let it go to waste! Thanks to your blog I will have that song running through my brain for the rest of day!

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  3. This is so clever! I thought I had it all figured out when I chose the carrot, and then you had to go and throw in some wrenches, or Loboks and spaghetti squash. Nothing is as it seems. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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  4. You missed your calling, photographer.

    You shoulda been a philosopher– and I’m not at all sure I’m kidding.

    Using four common vegetables– OK, make that three common veggies and a ringer– you have made a case for our differences making it a more interesting world, that everyone has something to offer, and that there’s room for everyone, no one needs to be excluded. And using veggies for your metaphor made your message very warm and accessible. Amazing, compelling, and beautifully done– no joke.

    P.S. I shall never again be able to look at a carrot and not think: What a noble creature!! : )

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    • How very kind of you, Mark. But to be fair, I am just a conduit – the vegetables told me what to say! The banana tried to speak too, but I ate it before it could say much.

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  5. lol I love your staging of the vegetables and telling a bit about each ones aspects. My favorite is the Banana sticker. lol That is absolute fun. 😉
    I agree about the spaghetti squash. It’s shelf life is a great virtue but it’s armor hide is real frown-point. They are yummy once you get them cut open and prepared.
    I really enjoyed you assessment of the virtues of the carrot. You have such a great talent for description.
    I’ve never heard of a lobok, but it reminds me of a daikon radish. We grew them before, my husband is a radish eater and he likes them fairly well.
    I hope you’ll post an update on how you decide to serve the lobok. 🙂

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  6. I like how you walked yourself through that. Oddly enough, I went into it with the notion that the Sesame Street song had always singled something out as different, but after reading your post, I thought what a great metaphor underscoring the fact that everyone — animal, vegetable, or mineral — is unique.

    P.S. I thought you were being quiet, but apparently I was unfollowing you. I have fixed that.

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    • It would be nice if people were as tolerant of the differences in people as they are with the differences in food!
      Glad to hear you found me again. I’d miss you if you didn’t stop by now and then.

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  7. When I saw the picture of the white root vegetable, I immediately thought it was a daikon. It’s used a lot in Japanese cooking. I didn’t realize it was called Lobok in China. I thought the banana didn’t belong because it is a fruit.

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  8. Ahhhhh. Ahhhhhh. AAAAAAhhhh. This test hurts my brain. It reminds me of those SAT tests where they give you a squiggle, a mint and a snake and ask which one doesn’t belong. Not even Einstein knew the answer. (unless it was…they’re all in the same dimension.) Please eat the Lobok and give us details about your crisper drawer killing vegetables (it shrinks my peppers). And I’ll hope and beg there won’t be a post that begins….A train leaves Quebec at 5 traveling 60 kph and another train leaves Manitoba at…… (or I’m sending you more lobek).

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    • I have a SAT question, assuming SAT is the past tense of SIT: If the Lobok and the carrot sit, uneaten, in the crisper drawer for another 5 days, and the spaghetti squash sits on the counter for another 8 days, what is the expected life span of the banana?

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  9. You’ve given me something very different, but interesting to ponder. At first I thought it was obvious: the rounder squash was not like the others. But you made good cases that the others could be not like the others. Life is full of relativity–no absolutes, even among fruits and vegetables!

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  10. I was thinking banana – the only fruit. I’ve never heard of a lobok, and I started mentally singing that Sesame Street song as soon as I saw the title. Great photo!

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    • I should have asked everyone if they knew the tune for that song. It got stuck in my head for several hours, but I don’t know if younger people have ever heard it. Oh, silly me, younger people probably don’t read my blog…

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