Rutabaga Queens

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By Heidi Lewis

Many great innovations have come from the redwoods of Humboldt County, CA—kinetic sculpture racing is but one. The first race materialized in 1969 when local sculptor Hobart Brown challenged fellow artist Jack Mays to a race down Ferndale’s Mainstreet against his “Pentacycle.” Years of creativity, engineering, and good times have ensued, and the race is now a three-day, 42-mile trek over land, sand, mud, and water—all human-powered. Kinetic fever has spread worldwide, but Humboldt’s race is known as the "Triathlon of the Art World” and is the only one to boast sovereignty by a Rutabaga Queen.

The qualifications to become a  Rutabaga Queen are wonderfully ambiguous and open to creative interpretation. “A Rutabaga Queen is an indefinable force of nature. Each Rutabaga Queen forges her/his/its own path to the crown.” Mainly the Queen is the cheerleader for the race, “rooting” the participants on.

The FruitGuys doesn’t pick favorites, so this week’s queen was elected by an independent panel of judges, which issued the following statement: “Miss Rutabaga has been crowned Outstanding Veggie of the Week. Miss Rutabaga’s botanical parents are cabbage and turnip, the particular brassica-crossing originating in Sweden. She’s known by the moniker ”˜Swede’ in the British Isles and Europe where she is often the cornerstone of winter meals. Miss Rutabaga studies genome theory at Triangle of U, with a minor in theatre. For the talent segment of the competition, Miss Rutabaga did an upbeat rendition of Tom Waits’ ”˜Way Down in the Hole’ on her accordion. Miss Rutabaga’s platform issue is ”˜World Peas and a Warm Soup in Every Pot.’ Miss Rutabaga wins a cash prize and use of a veggie diesel car for one year, and she’ll serve as spokes-veggie for the Department of Agriculture.” Congratulations, Miss Rutabaga!

To Prepare: Peel and chop, steam or boil, and mash with butter and nutmeg. Great in partnership with potatoes; can be roasted, fried, or microwaved.

To Store: Rutabagas are keepers—they’ll last up to a month in cool and moist conditions. If storing in the fridge, don’t let them get too moist.


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