Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Return of the Radish

In Canada, I used to stay up nights wondering what ever happened to the radish. It had disappeared from supermar-ket shelves seemingly overnight and even my local fruit and vegetable place barely stocked it.

Not that I had done a lot to keep it hanging around, mind you. I had passed it over for other vegetables plenty of times. It barely even made it into my salads anymore.

To tell you the truth, the radish had had a crush on me since grade school. You know, one that was good for my self esteem, but never one that was going to translate into a relationship. It would always hang around my house with its cousin, the turnip, and I wouldn't give either of them a second look. The radish was always a little bit of an afterthought in my life. Until it was gone.

When the radish disappeared, I started thinking about all the good times we'd had: my mother's summer salads with radishes and buttermilk dressing, lazy mornings biting into radishes stirred into creamy yogurt cheese and sometimes afternoon snacks of radishes and salt. Those were the days. Bygone days.

Imagine my excitement when, passing a vegetable vendor the other day, I caught sight of the radish, looking very fine. All of a sudden the radish was all fresh, crispy, antibacterial, cancer fighting, just 20 calories a cup and not at all bitter. Something to think about.

I took the radish home with me. For lunch, I cleaned it up, chopped it into quarters and tossed it over mache (which just as easily could have been arugula) with some chickpeas and fresh mandarin orange pieces (grapefruit would have been delicious too). Then I dressed it with a French dessing: three tablespoons of good red wine vinegar, four of extra virgin olive oil, half a crushed clove of garlic and a teaspoon of dijon mustard, shaken together in a jar and seasoned with salt and pepper. I sprinkled a little over the salad and refrigerated the rest. If I'd had chives, I would have sprinkled those over too.

I devoured the salad with a mixture of nostalgia and discovery. Then I made a date with the radish for dinner and the next day's lunch. And I promised not to underestimate it again.

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