And yet, anyone who has had the pleasure of visiting France will be familiar with céleri rémoulade, a cool-crunchy-creamy-tangy side often served with carottes râpées, or shredded carrot salad. Think about potato salad and coleslaw, then stop thinking about them and think about céleri rémoulade and carottes râpées instead. Now think about eating them on a horse. Now think about the Old Spice Man eating them on a horse. Whatever. Give me carottes râpées, give me céleri rémoulade, give me riz au lait (French rice pudding), and then get out of my way.
My love for this dish aside, I'd never bought a whole celeriac -- also called celery root -- to make it myself. Why? Because this is generally me at the market: Hmm, should I buy the bright purple eggplant, the gorgeous rainbow chard, or the terrifying-looking hairball? I rest my case.
But last weekend, I bit the bullet. And to my great surprise, eating céleri rémoulade in America is just as delicious as eating it in Paris, and making it takes only 15 minutes. It's even quite beautiful if you tangle it up with golden beets.
True, most of us can't eat celeriac while picnicking by the Seine.
But we can eat it while unloading the dishwasher, or sorting the mail, or reading the news, wide-eyed and sober, with the heaviest of hearts.
Recipe for Golden Beet and Celeriac Remoulade
I adapted this recipe from Nigel Slater, whose dressing offers the perfect balance of creaminess, tanginess, and je ne sais quoi. Adding golden beets pumps up the salad's visual appeal and adds a second layer of earthy sweetness.
1 pound celeriac, about 1 medium
10 ounces golden beets (you can see I found a large one above, or substitute 2-3 medium)
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon (about 1/4 cup), divided
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/3 to 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley, or a combination of parsley and chives (which I used)
Peel the celeriac and the beet(s). I used a peeler first but then switched to a knife about halfway through. When peeling the celeriac, remove both the outer brown skin as well as the light green layer under the peel (if yours has it). Cut into chunks. Shred, preferably with the medium shredding disk of a food processor, if you have one. Transfer to a large serving bowl and toss with half the lemon juice.
Whisk the remaining lemon juice, mayo, dijon, and sour cream and scrape over the vegetables. Top with the herbs and toss through. I actually didn't need salt and pepper, but season, if desired, to your liking. Serve immediately.