Even in a cold wet April the new season's produce does eventually come in to the markets in France. Everyone gets very excited by the glamour produce like asparagus and strawberries, but appreciated on a quieter, more homely level, are the bunches of new spring carrots and baby turnips. The turnips are so pretty I have to buy them, and this is really the only time of year to eat them. Any later and they get big and too funky flavoured to be appealing. They also get bitter as the season advances.
Turnips are generally greeted with derision in anglophone cultures these days as old fashioned peasant food. Most people wouldn't consider buying them because their family would be sure to turn their noses up when they learned what they were eating. The best the humble turnip can hope for is the occasional trendy television chef daringly serving them caramelised in honey or a few in amongst a dish of buttered baby spring vegetables. But in rural France they are still very popular, and considered an ideal vegetable to serve with duck, or in pot au feu. It's true they are also considered rather old fashioned here, but it is associated with more positive ideas of heritage and wholesome family recipes. In both cultures there is an overtone of memories of poverty and deprivation associated with the turnip and so while cooks here gladly purchase these attractive candy coloured baubles when they appear in the market, the arrival of the new season navets is not an event to look forward to and discuss like the arrival of the garriguettes or the asperges.