Roald Dahl is best known as the man who gave us the Wonka bar, lickable wallpaper, and enormous peaches. But his 1982 children’s book The BFG is arguably one of his best creations.
In celebration of the July 1st release of live-action movie adaptation of the story, Rebecca Firkser and Emily Schostack created a salad worthy of the BFG himself.
Deep in the English countryside grows a curious vegetable known as a snozzcumber. You could stop at every farmstand and market you pass this summer, but it’s unlikely you’ll come across one. If you’re lucky, you might find one tucked in a pocket of your local CSA share—but only if you reside in Giant Country, as snozzcumbers have a rough time passing the USDA APHIS Fruits and Vegetables Import Requirements.
Many years ago, a young girl named Sophie spent a great deal of time in Giant Country. Carried away by an enormous dream-catching giant in the middle of the night, Sophie was at first quite frightened—it’s a well-known fact that most giants gobble up “human beans” for lunch. Yet Sophie’s captor revealed himself to be a “friendly” giant, preferring to snack on sausages and doughnuts than children.
Unfortunately, because Giant Country remains mostly wild, the edible options for Big Friendly Giants (let’s call them “BFGs,” for short) are quite slim. “In this sloshflunking Giant Country, happy eats like pineapples and pigwinkles is simply not growing,” noted the BFG. To which Sophie wondered, “If you don't eat people like all the others… then what do you live on?”
That's where the snozzcumber comes in. According to Sophie, “it was about half as long again as an ordinary man but was much thicker. It was as thick around its girth as a perambulator. It was black with white stripes along its length. And it was covered all over with coarse knobbles.”
If you’ve never tasted a snozzcumber, it’s best to do so with an open mind and a vegetable peeler. Breaking it down, while a bit time-consuming, is ultimately the best way to get to the edible portion of the vegetable (whereas biting directly into a snozzcumber makes a sound akin to crushing ice).
The BFG claims snozzcumbers taste like “clockcoaches and slimewanglers,” but a bit of testing reveals that the vegetable simply needs to be peeled. After much experimenting of our own, we discovered that when snozzcumber is properly prepped, the vegetable is actually quite delicious (it’s the juxtaposition of the vegetable’s flesh with the skin that causes it to taste of frogskins and rotting fish).
Munching on raw snozzcumbers can get a bit boring. But with the right vinaigrette and a little extra attention, you can assemble a salad that pleases giants and human beans alike. A bit of acid and a dose of aromatics will transform the “extremely icky-poo” vegetable into a salad that is very tasty indeed. It’s crisp and salty, and just a little bit briney.
And for those who can’t get on the next flight to Giant Country but would like to make a snozzcumber salad for an upcoming summer barbecue (or to munch on at the movies), fear not. A mixture of cauliflower, cucumber, carrots, and dragon fruit mimic the texture and flavor of snozzcumber flesh almost exactly.
It’s important to note that one snozzcumber, which ranges between 9 and 12 feet long, makes enough salad to feed about forty people; the alternative vegetable option feeds six to eight. For an exceptionally enjoyable taste bud experience, we highly recommend the salad be washed down with a tall glass of ice cold frobscottle.
For the dressing:
- 2 stalks lemongrass
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (or any neutral oil)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- Zest of 1 lime
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
For the salad:
- 1/4 snozzcumber... OR substitute the following:
- 1 medium head cauliflower (any color!) or romanesco broccoli
- 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
- 3 carrots (chef's choice color), thinly sliced
- 3 scallions, plus more for garnish, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup roasted salted cashews, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 dragon fruit, thinly sliced
What's your favorite of Roald Dahl's stories? Share with us in the comments!