Schopenhauer’s porcupines and a root vegetable mash

Here, in the North American east, it’s been a brutal couple of months. Extreme cold, snowfall after snowfall, and high winds. We are heading into the tenth week of continuous winter. Most of us are getting a little fed up. Prickly, even. A bit like Schopenhauer’s porcupines.

German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, used the analogy of porcupines trying to huddle together to stay warm in the cold as a metaphor for human behaviour and intimacy. Huddling porcupines injure each other with their prickles, so they disperse and learn to survive by keeping their distance, even though their need for warmth is not met. This, Schopenhauer proposes, is the dilemma of human intimacy – how to huddle together and not injure each other.

This is certainly the winter for testing the theory. Or perhaps it’s just a case of mass cabin fever – but I don’t know anyone who isn’t fed up and longing for spring.

Regardless of the weather outside, I’m moving towards spring and have started spring cleaning. Beginning with the refrigerator. I’m clearing out all the winter vegetables, some of which have been lingering for a while! Last week I made a fantastic winter squash soup. This week I made this root vegetable mash. I made it first as a base for leftover stew and it was perfect – very full-flavoured owing in part to the rutabaga which has that slightly bitter taste that complements rich flavours so well.

The mash was so good that I made it again and served it with sautéed mushrooms. Such a fabulous way to eat an array of vegetables in one meal. This would make an ideal vegetarian/ vegan meal, served alongside a salad and loaf of whole grain bread. Use whatever vegetables you have on hand but the combination of parsnip, carrot, potato, rutabaga, and turnip is especially tasty.

root vegetable mash

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1/2 large rutabaga
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1-2 parsnips
  • 1-2 carrots
  • 1 small turnip
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • plenty of black pepper
  • a little sea salt to finish

prepared veggies - root veg mash

Peel and chop the vegetables to suit. Bring to the boil in salted water and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from the heat and drain thoroughly. Add the olive oil and black pepper and mash thoroughly. Finish with a small sprinkle of sea salt. Serve hot as a side dish or as a base for stew or sautéed mushrooms, etc.

winter root veg mash


6 thoughts on “Schopenhauer’s porcupines and a root vegetable mash

  1. I am doing the same thing, cleaning out the fridge and using things up so that I can make way for spring produce even if it is a ways away, I will be ready!!! Lovely mash Lindy and I love the idea of eating with the mushrooms.

  2. How I love spring cleaning, it feels so refreshing. I’ve also started, but with the pantry, not the refrigerator. I should also empty the freezer at some point, there are all kinds of ancient things in it! Root mash is delicious, I thought it was a huge rutabaga on the picture, but turns out it is “only” a turnip! Wow, what a giant one.

    1. So love seeing you here Darya – thank you! And yes, so cathartic isn’t it – the spring cleaning I mean!
      Oh yes, very good point – we call rutabagas turnips here in Canada. I must edit that so no one else is confused. A mighty turnip indeed!
      Happy spring to you – I hope it’s well on the way.

  3. I feel so guilty as I eat my lunch in the sun; this year our state was blessed. It is a bit chilly but it anything a warm sweater, a furry pup and a stiff drink can’t cure. I enjoyed the analogy of human intimacy and porcupines.

  4. The fridge is the last thing I would ever want to clean! In fact, this winter has been so cold that I don’t even have the wretched thing switched on – saves cleaning it. As for mashed vegetables, it’s an absolute must over here. In fact, it’s one of those (few) things I miss outside of winter.

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