Celeriac is an edible vegetable in the same family as carrots, parsley, and parsnips. Some refer to it as knob celery, or turnip-rooted celery, as well as celery root and celeriac, but it actually isn’t the same plant as commonly enjoyed green celery, which can be confusing. While it is a closely related variety, celeriac is both a distinct plant and not a root, either. Instead, it’s a bulbous stem, a similar botanic creation to a fennel head, and grows semi-underground. Especially prior to cleaning, the celeriac’s exterior has a craggy, brown, and dirty-looking exterior. Each celeriac bulb is approximately four to five inches in diameter, and when sliced open has an attractive white, smooth flesh.
Celeriac originated around the Mediterranean, with noted early uses by civilizations in present-day Egypt, Italy, and Greece — it was even mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey. Celeriac later spread and assimilated into the diets of Northern Europe, becoming especially popular in German and French cuisine during the Middle Ages. Today, celeriac is found on the shelves stateside, as well as in North Africa and South America.