Eating carrots, as so many of us were told growing up, is a sure-fire route to better eyesight. It’s true that these toothsome root vegetables are packed with vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy vision. But will they deliver the power of seeing in the dark?
That’s a story that grew legs in World War II, when the invention of a new kind of radar used by the British air force radically improved RAF pilots’ ability to spot—and shoot down—the Luftwaffe bombers coming over the English Channel night after night. Anxious to keep the new technology secret, Allied propaganda spinners cooked up the story that the British pilots had exceptional night vision thanks to their consumption of carrots.
At the time, England—despite the need to ration food—had a surplus of carrots, so this must have seemed like a win-win to the authorities. The British government produced posters urging the populace to eat carrots: “... essential for night sight. NIGHT SIGHT can mean LIFE or DEATH”.
We’re not going to promise that this lush carrot spread will help win wars but it will most certainly win fans. It owes a debt to Rohan Anderson, the tree-changer whose Whole Larder Love blog documented his life of growing, hunting and cooking in country Victoria and led to a book of the same name, plus another called A Year of Practiculture (you can buy it from his website, wholelarderlove.com). Anderson’s original uses cream cheese alongside the roasted carrots but Lesley Russell’s adaptation opts for cannellini beans, adding vegetable protein and fibre, and making the recipe dairy free.
This is delicious warm or at room temperature with crusty bread, or lavosh (recipe page 64) or crudites; we especially like it alongside a bowl of warm olives flavoured with garlic and bay leaves.