6 min read

IX: Parsnip

What parsnips, Homer, the Joker, and Midsommar have in common.
Parsnips. Photo by Bernd Dittrich / Unsplash
Parsnips. Photo by Bernd Dittrich / Unsplash

Good morning. Today is nonidi, the 9th of Vendémiaire, Year CCXXXI. Today we celebrate le panais, the carrot's bitter cousin.

Parsnips have a bad rap thanks to all the propaganda carrots got during the Second World War, but they are larger and sweeter than their cousins. Parsnips are more dense with calories and carbs, which makes them a more efficient food. They also contain antioxidants and fiber. So don't be fooled by fancy colors, and munch a ghostly parnsip instead!

A group of eight young adults on a vacation in Argyll, on the Atlantic coast of Scotland, were traipsing near a stream when they spotted some parsnips growing in the wild. They collected them and brought them back to add to a homemade curry. Some members of the group found the parsnips to be unusually bitter, and ate around the small boiled chunks in their food, while others, tired from the hike, greedily wolfed the dish down.

The next morning, one member of the group had a grand mal seizure. They quickly got him to the hospital where he was treated. They considered the event a random fluke, and went back to their place for lunch, some members having leftover curry. Over the new few hours, every member of the group felt various amounts of nausea, and some began to vomit. A second member of the group had a seizure lasting three minutes, and again they rushed to the hospital. He was in the throes of intense visions and some paralysis upon arrival.

At this point, the group suspected food poisoning. The only member to not have any symptoms led police back to the stream where they had collected the parsnips, and, with the help of a local botanist, they realized the problem: they had eaten something called hemlock water dropwort, and unless they purged their systems quickly, they would die with smiles frozen on their faces, like victims of the Joker in a Batman comic.

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