P Is For Parsnips, Most Peculiar

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 10.56.48 AM “Fine words butter no parsnips.”

This is an old English proverb that means empty words or flattery achieve nothing.  The idea being that buttering food makes it taste better, but it’s still the same food.

I first remember hearing this proverb on an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Olivia d’Abo as Nicole Wallace played an accomplished grifter who was always one step ahead of Vincent D’Onofrio as Detective Robert Goren aka Bobby.  She tormented Bobby, the brainiac, like a cat with a mouse, and at one point while he was trying to find a way to put her in jail, she said the above saying.

The saying stuck with me, and is my only “real life” experience with this saying.

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{ SOMETHING TO DO FOR FUN }

If you’re a fan of vegetables and of Walt Disney World, you may remember that during the 1980s & 1990s there was The Kitchen Kabaret show at The Land Pavilion in Epcot.

The show was a hoot, complete silliness– with a memorable theme song.  Click HERE to listen to the “Veggie, Veggie, Fruit, Fruit”  song.  Click HERE to see some photos of the show.

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Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Creative. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Looking for the crumb of truth in the cookie of life.

44 thoughts on “P Is For Parsnips, Most Peculiar”

  1. We got tired of the whole Nicole Wallace-Bobby Goren thing after a while. In fact, he got on my nerves in general. I thought Kathryn Erbe was wonderful, and would have enjoyed seeing her and Julianne Nicholson (Chris Noth’s partner, the redhead) work together. They were always cast as the sidekicks, but they were both good characters and would have been dynamite as leads.

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    1. John, I agree with you 100%. Z-D and I used to make fun of Bobby, but loved Eames. Your idea of putting her together with, well– anyone but Bobby, is a good one. Pity that never happened.

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      1. There was one episode where Goren worked with Wheeler and Eames worked with Logan, or maybe Goldblum, and it was interesting to see how it worked between them.

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  2. Nice phrase. I’ve heard it, but not often, and I can’t think where.
    I watched Law & Order briefly when my husband did, and I couldn’t tell you much about it. I like the SVU versions better, but it’s just not my thing. D’Onofrio is overall underrated, I’ll say that much.
    Parsnips though. Mmm. Parsnip puree with lots of butter is one of The Mister’s faves. I should make that soon. Mmm. Parsnips. 😛

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    1. joey, it’s a nice thing to say, but would seem odd in daily conversation, I think. I liked the L&O shows for a while, then I tired of their formulaic nature. Plus, so violent. *meh* I haven’t had parsnips is ages. Maybe it’s time to correct that!

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  3. I don’t remember that one, although I did watch a few of the Criminal Intent shows and I remember Olivia d’Abo (I think she was the sister of Kevin Arnold on Wonder Years). I got a kick out of D’Onofrio but didn’t watch the show on a regular basis so it didn’t get to the point of driving me crazy. Nice job!

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    1. Janet Miles, I can’t explain why this saying stuck in my mind, but it did. I always liked the episodes with Olivia d’Abo, so that’s probably why. We watched all of the L&O shows for a while, but eventually I got tired of them. Too much of the same, I guess.

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  4. I used to be into Law & Order. I don’t remember them saying anything as clever as this 🙂 But then again, it was a different lifetime. I now watch mainly CBeebies 😀 Did I say it’s a great phrase. My husband loves phrases like this and he bought a book explaining their origin. It’s fascinating!

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    1. Gulara, somehow out of all that was said on that show this phrase stuck with me. Probably because it had something to do with food! It’s a lovely thing to say, but I don’t know when I’d say it. Sounds too highbrow for my usual chatter. 🙂

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  5. I like this proverb! I had never heard it but it suits me rather well. I have no buttery bits other than that. I think I’m having a ‘not enough coffee’ kind of day💜

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  6. I believe I saw that L&O episode, but I don’t remember the saying. I miss that show. Now I watch L&O: SVU. You’d think they’d run out of story ideas, and yet these shows carry on.

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    1. Carrie, you’re right. All the L&O shows never lack for deviant characters + plot. Kind of sad when you realize that many of the stories are based on real life cases.

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    1. Sarah, it’s an old saying that I’ve never heard anyone in real life use. As for not seeing L&O:CI, many people haven’t. The L&O:SUV version is more popular. However, me being me, I’ve seen more episodes of the less popular one than the popular one. Goes to figure.

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  7. I so look forward to reading whatever new phrase you come up with each morning. I find myself hoping that it’s one I have never heard before! You win again today. What a charming turn of phrase. Now I am waiting to see what you come up with tomorrow!

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    1. Zazzy, thanks for the compliment. I’ve kept a “Food Phrases + Information” file for a couple of years now. It’s from there that I’m pulling these sayings. I like this turn of phrase, but don’t anticipate using it in everyday conversation. Might seem a bit pretentious!

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  8. I’ve never heard the phrase, nor do I recollect having buttered parsnips. Now I feel as if there is this entire life I have not yet lived. Do I chase it? Hmm picky eaters at home who trust nothing not covered in cheese or either hamburger or nugget shaped. What to do, what to do…

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    1. Allie P, parsnips are tasty, but have a distinct flavor. So unless you’ve got some intense cheese sauce, I suspect that your family isn’t going to lurve the parsnip.

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    1. kate, I only know the proverb because I heard a character on TV say it. Then got I got curious about it. And now after writing this I have added parsnips to the grocery list!

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    1. evilsquirrel13, I can understand how you wouldn’t know either the saying or the veggie. My mother’s side of the family was farmers; there is no midwestern vegetable that I’ve not eaten, sometimes under duress!

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  9. That’s another new expression for me.
    If I’m going to have parsnips, they’ll be roasted and I can’t think of a single vegetable I put butter on. I’m more of a parmesan cheese person. Parmesan cheese makes a veggie sing 🙂

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    1. Margaret, you bring up a good point. Parsnips are kind of a turnip + parsley flavor, but sweet too. If you add butter to them most people like them better. I prefer olive oil, but then I’m an outlier!

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