Every year in Aargau Switzerland on the first Wednesday of November the Rüeblimart takes place. The Carrot Market to the none German speakers among us attracts over thirty five thousand visitors to the one hundred and forty stalls. For nearly thirty years this annual market has been parading carrot displays and products in so many forms, sizes and colors.
The humble carrot has been around for over five thousand years in a spectacular range of colors. Evidence suggests that they originated from around the Afghanistan area appearing as purple, black, white, yellow, and red even but not orange. These early carrots were not as sweet as we are accustomed to them being today and were often used medicinally by the Ancient Greeks. By the 13th century carrots were being cultivated in Europe and were still being used to treat ailments as diverse as syphilis and animal bites. During the 17th century Dutch plant breeders produced the sweet orange carrot that we are so familiar with in celebration of the Dutch royal family and the ‘House of Orange’.
Early colonists brought the carrot to the New World where some escaped cultivation and turned into the ubiquitous weed of Queen Anne’s lace; if you sniff the root you will immediately recognize the familiar carroty scent.
Back at the present day Rueblimart all manner of carrot products adorn the stalls. The famous Aargau carrot cake is decorated with ‘carrots’ made from marzipan. There are carrot breads and muffins, carrot jam and preserves to spread upon them. Carrot honey is produced by cooking down carrots with lemons and sugar. A warming carrot soup is available alongside a spicy carrot tea. Then there are all manner of skin care blends up for grabs from carrot face creams to carrot soaps.
Interestingly, eighty per cent of carrots now eaten across the country are baby carrots which in fact are not baby carrots at all. They are fully grown carrots that are cut into two inch pieces and whittled down into the small vegetable that we are used to buying by the bagful. Eating enormous quantities of carrots can result in a condition known as carotenemia where the person’s skin takes on a yellowy orange tinge, fortunately for Warner Bros, Bugs Bunny seems unaffected.
Photos courtesy of flickr - feta74 and carrotmuseum.co.uk