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What Is A Rhizome?

My friends and family would tell you that I am a picky eater. There is some truth in that. But I’d contest the idea a little too. I just have a higher than average number of things I won’t eat.

But there are things that I will eat, to the surprise of everyone around me.

For instance, just the other night, my wife and I had dinner with another couple. We met at a Thai restaurant because I like Thai food. See? I’m not hard to get along with. I’m fine with different cuisines. If there are dishes without fish or mushrooms, I can find something that I’ll enjoy.

Do you think that’s free-range serpent? (image by Thomas Brown CCbySA2.0)

Our group sat, chatted and looked over the menu. The conversation turned to what everyone was having. I settled on a chicken dish with an unpronounceable name. Fortunately, it was also labeled D16 for people like me who don’t speak Thai.

I was a little concerned about my decision. Though Unpronounceable Chicken D16 didn’t have mushrooms or fish among its ingredients, it did have something called rhizomes.

“Do any of you know what a rhizome is?”, I asked my table mates, “I’m pretty sure I recall the word from fourth grade science class, but I don’t remember what it is.”

There was general agreement that we’d all experienced the word as part of vocabulary tests in our youth, but no one knew exactly what it meant. An opinion was advanced that is was somehow biological in nature. I found this last point reassuring because there was a good chance that I would be eating it.

Rhizome (rahy-zome), noun: A science vocabulary word sometimes found in Thai cuisine.

They’re Usually Good For Some Advice

“Let people eat what they want. It’s none of our business.” Clarence Darrow, 1926 (image public domain)

You know, I like attorneys. My wife is one.ย  So are both halves of the couple we ate with. Attorneys usually give great advice, like “don’t sign that” or “don’t say anything”. But none of the three lawyers I dined with said anything to dissuade me from ordering a dish with an ingredient we could not define. There are a lot of classes in law school about things folks should not do and how to advise them not to do those things. That education apparently does not extend to guiding others to a wise menu decision. Lawyers aren’t trained to say “don’t eat that”.

So I ordered Unpronounceable Chicken D16, rhizomes and all. We also ordered some appetizers, which gave me time to become more concerned about my order. I wondered if I’d made a mistake by being too adventurous. Where was that picky eater version of me when I needed him? How many rhizomes would there be and should I ask for an extra plate to push them off on to?

Rhizome (rahy-zome), noun: A science vocabulary word sometimes found in Thai cuisine. Rhizomes are known to cause elevated stress levels in some humans who consume them. Lawyers are immune to the stress effects of the rhizome because they are bright enough to not eat things which they can not define.

The Rise Of The Rhizomes

This is a rhizome. Not my rhizome. I wouldn’t have eaten this one. (image public domain)

So I was tense by the time our entrees arrived at the table. There, among the chicken and assorted chopped vegetables on my plate, were my rhizomes. At that moment, I learned that rhizomes are not any sort of animal.

These particular rhizomes were tiny, light-green spheres on little stalks.ย  There were about twenty spheres on each two-inch stalk. They put me in mind of grapes, if you had a whole stalk of those freakishly tiny grapes you sometimes find in a bunch of normal ones. I don’t know if mine were representative of all rhizomes; I’m going to assume that they were for the sake of this piece.

“So, these are my rhizomes. How do you suppose I should eat them?”, I asked. My wife said, “yeah, that’s probably them”. The other two at the table were equally helpful.

Rhizome (rahy-zome), noun: A science vocabulary word sometimes found in Thai cuisine. Rhizomes are known to cause elevated stress levels in some humans who consume them. Lawyers are immune to the stress effects of the rhizome because they are bright enough to not eat things which they can not define.

Rhizomes are not animals. They grow in bunches on some sort of plant and are very much like that one tiny green grape at the bottom of the stem.

Think I’m A Picky Eater? I Know A Rhizome That Would Disagree

We all started eating and continued chatting. The company was good and so was my Unpronounceable Chicken D16. But I avoided the rhizomes. I left them alone until I felt certain that I would not be noticed, and then I cut one of the little green spheres from the stem. It fit between the tines of my fork.

And when I bit into the rhizome sphere, it crunched. It was nothing like a grape, once I got past first impressions. It was neither sweet nor juicy. There will probably never be a market for rhizome wine, or jelly. In fact the overwhelming flavor of the rhizome was…nothing. It was a tiny, crunchy bite of nothing.

Rhizome (rahy-zome), noun: A science vocabulary word sometimes found in Thai cuisine. Rhizomes are known to cause elevated stress levels in some humans who consume them. Lawyers are immune to the stress effects of the rhizomeย because they are bright enough to not eat things which they can not define

Rhizomes are not animals. They grow in bunches on some sort of plant and are very much like that one tiny green grape at the bottom of the stem. They are just like that tiny grape in a bunch of normal grapes, if that grape is hard and flavorless. So it is not like the tiny grape, because we all know the tiny grape is one of the best of the bunch.

And so the evening ended. I gained a little knowledge about people who practice law, and even less about rhizomes. I also proved that I am not a picky eater.

I apologize to my fourth grade teacher, if she is still alive, for not knowing if a rhizome is a plant or an animal. I was paying attention. No, I was not daydreaming, I probably just forgot what you told me. For what it is worth, I’m pretty sure that sharp kid who you were so sure was going to law school doesn’t remember either.

Did you find this page while you were looking for the real definition of rhizome? Sorry to have wasted your time, but you really should have figured out that I don’t know what I’m talking about long before you got down here. Anyhow, you can find that definition here.

Welcome to all who found this post through Freshly Pressed. Thanks for coming. Have a look around. Tomorrow, a complimentary continental breakfast will be served.

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34 Comments on “What Is A Rhizome?”

  1. Blogdramedy says:

    I still like that joke about taking Rhiz home.
    So I’m sticking with that.

  2. amrita1993 says:

    You got off lucky. I was once served ice cream with sashimi balls at a thai cafe. They tasted like rubber jelly.

  3. pegoleg says:

    All I know about rhizomes is that if you plant them in your garden, you’re supposed to pull them out again before the first frost. That’s way too much work, so I don’t have any, either in the garden or in the fridge. Sounds like I made a wise choice.

  4. stevensteelauthor says:

    Let me place my comment for this post in the form of an analogy:

    This post was a beautifully-designed plate, and the contents of it manifested a richly-flavored, delectable dinner that consisted of the following ingredients — the organically (naturally) grown content, flavored by a jocular witticism, and sprinkled with some interesting definition bars to top it off.

    Great write, my friend! Hope to see more of your writing in the future! ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ‘

  5. blaupause7 says:

    hm. nice to know, but I first thought that a rhizome might be some kind of root because we have so many bamboo rhizomes spreading wildly in our garden, a fact which drives me crazy. By the way, what troubles me most is the “boil broken sea lampshade” on the photo … I’m not quite sure if I’d like have broken lampshades for dinner
    ๐Ÿ˜‰
    cheers
    Ulrike

  6. The food ingredient GMC is bad too.

  7. nurulamira211 says:

    Great write. Hope to see more of your writing in the future !

  8. joelkings5 says:

    blaupause7 ur garden needs a makeover and the right person is blurt

  9. Will the complimentary continental breakfast be gluten and meat free? If not, I’m leaving. And I will demand a refund. Also, when I opened this article I did so on the assumption that the title was rhimzone rather than rhizome. There were very few rhymes. It seems I’ve been deliberately mislead; rhizomes don’t seem interesting at all. Better bring your lawyer.

  10. Amy Reese says:

    Hey, congrats on the FP nod. It’s great to see you there. A bit of nothing, but a crunchy bit of nothing, right? You’re a brave eater!

  11. ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘Œ

  12. jmpod says:

    Clever. Love the evolving definition…!

  13. Made me smile! A rhizome is a starchy root ๐Ÿ˜„ I need to split my Iris plants as the rhizomes are too close together and not flowering! Great post!

  14. Don’t feel bad. I have a grad degree in plant physiology but haven’t used it in a while… and my age is such that even I was having trouble remembering exactly what a rhizome was. I was getting it mixed up with rhizobial bacteria which fix nitrogen in root nodules (you see, I remembered just enough to come close). I was thinking the rhizomes were the nodules, but I guess that’s wrong. According to Wikipedia anyway – I didn’t look in my textbooks!

  15. Rhizomes look a bit creepy! Great long post! You seem to be very experienced unlike a newbie like me!

  16. beingwoke says:

    For a while I did not click on this post because I thought your blog was about different mechanical things (based on the spanner pic) & I think a rhizome was a type of metal you were going to go into!
    So glad I clicked and read. Was hilarious.
    FYI – they don’t teach us what rhizomes are in the English school system (or if they did I certainly don’t remember it and I’m not graduated with an engineering masters).
    Also I’m also someone who dislikes more things than normal. Funnily enough I love mushrooms and like fish (not prawns because they look like they do when they’re alive) but I hate onions, coriander and many other things.

  17. I did find this through FP! And very glad I did. I too have had some angina-inducing experiences while ordering food from directly translated menus (but, like…is there even a less weird word for rhizome? I think it just is what it is). Glad yours turned out to be successful!

  18. thelifemoon says:

    I love your definition a lot more than any other I’ve seen. I’ve worked in the health food industry for a while, and the first “definition” out of my mouth is:
    ROOT! It’s a root. GINGER! Uh, TURMERIC! Did I get it?

    That would be my honest to goodness answer. Exactly!

  19. Rhizomes are underground stem e.g Ginger ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. JulieAnn says:

    “I just have a higher number of things I won’t eat” love it! Lol ๐Ÿ™‚


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