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Men: Are you a parsnip, beetroot, aubergine or leek?

I recognise that this blog post is a very tenuous link to food and food safety, but what the heck- it’s Friday! Besides, I couldn’t let this ‘Little Gem’ go unreported.

For a long time now, women’s bodies have been described as ‘apple’ or ‘pear’ shaped according to weight distribution, but now high street retailer, Debenhams, has developed a similar set of labels for men’s body types. This time they’re being likened to vegetables (although they appear to have missed ‘couch potato’ from their definitions…)

Apparently ‘the Parsnip’ is likened to a woman’s hourglass figure in being the most desirable body form for a man. Parsnips have wide shoulders, developed chest muscles and slim hips. ‘Leeks’ by comparison have slim shoulders and hips and long legs.‘Aubergines?’ – yep, you guessed it! They have slim arms, rounded shoulders, a bit of a tummy and a largish derrière. And finally, the ‘Beetroot’, which has medium shoulders, large tummy and chest and narrow hips and legs.

Given men’s general aversion to vegetables, will the new labelling catch on?

The idea behind the labels is to help men dress to suit their shape and inspire body confidence.  To help male shoppers, the retailer has given examples of celebrities sporting the different body shapes: Tom Daley is a Parsnip, Russell Brand is a Leek, Rapper Jay-Z is an Aubergine (bet he’s less than chuffed with this description!) and cuddly presenter Eamonn Holmes is Beetroot-shaped.

Will it catch on? Who knows? Maybe we ladies will wake up one morning to find our other halves in front of the mirror bemoaning the fact that their jeans would fit properly if only they weren’t such an Aubergine. Or perhaps the day will come when we complement a man on his gorgeous parsnip physique. We’ll just have to wait and see.

In my opinion the best place for parsnips, leeks, aubergines and beetroots are in a greengrocer’s rather than a department store. And the best dressings for these are to be found in a kitchen or restaurant. With this in mind, here’s a recipe for Leek, Parsnip and Cauliflower Bake, taken from the Co-operative website:

Leek, Parsnip & Cauliflower Bake


3 parsnips, peeled

2 leeks, cut into 2cm pieces

1 small cauliflower, cut into florets

1/2 tsp thyme

2 garlic cloves, chopped

200ml vegetable stock

150ml double cream

100g course breadcrumbs

1tbsp chopped fresh parsley

100g mature cheddar cheese, grated


Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / gas 4.

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the parsnips and cook for 3-4 minutes then drain, leave to cool in its own steam.

Blanch the leeks in the boiling water for 1 minute and drain. Lightly grease with a little butter the insides of a medium sized ovenproof dish. Slice one of the parsnips into 2cm rounds and place into the oven dish. Next add half of the leeks, half of the cauliflower and half of the cheese. Repeat the layering finishing with the cheese. In a small saucepan add the thyme, garlic, vegetable stock and cream and bring to a simmer.

Pour over the vegetables. Lastly scatter over the breadcrumbs and chopped parsley and bake loosely covered with tin foil for about 20 minutes then a further 10 minutes without the foil.

Cool slightly before serving.