Saturday, May 9, 2009

It's not the size of the radish in the fight...

When I was a kid back in Iowa, I can remember my mother bringing home vegetables from our neighbors' gardens. Radishes were a favorite around our house. My mom would top and tail them and then pop them in a bowl of ice water for snacking any time. They were so good: hot and firey, but not like a chile that gets you at the back of the tongue. A radish gets you in the sinuses. When I got older and more culinarily experienced, I would call it similar to wasabi (another radish from around the world). Even the radishes mom got at the grocery were nice. I would put on of the red globes in my mouth and bite down, then run around the kitchen in a mix of ecstasy and pain until a few seconds went by and all was back to normal. Then I'd go for another.

We have planted a ton of radish in our garden but they hadn't matured enough until this week. Being impatient and ready for radishes, last week I bought a bunch of radishes for salads and such. They looked so good: round and red, just right for that bite of heat to my lettuce mix, or so I thought. When I cut them open and took a bite, I couldn't believe that I was eating a radish. It had no flavor at all, no bite, no nothing. I tried another. And another. Nothing, zip, nada.

When I pull the radished from our own garden I am pleasently surprised with some heat. Not as much as I remember, but that lovely, spicy flavor is there. So I have to wonder: how much of our food has changed over the years? Or is it our taste buds that change? Probably a bit of both, although I find chiles just as hot now as I used to do.

Tomatoes are my food 'canary' in the mine. I can rarely find a supermarket tomato that I find edible. The ones at the street farmers market usually fare much better. They normally grow non-hybridized heirloom varieties and they pick them when they are ready, and only have them in the summer. For the last few years I only eat tomatoes in the summer, which makes Barry a bit sad, I think. He loves tomatoes. I maintain that flavorless, spongy red things are not tomatoes at all, and doing without them isn't a hardship. I think I might have to keep a coldframe with tomato plants year 'round. I've got about six tomato plants going right now, with more seedlings on the way.

Last year I put up several jars of Tomato Jam, Tomato Preserves and a Tomato-Onion-Date Chutney. I enjoyed myself and paid homage to my mother.

1 comment:

  1. I feel your pain, while your garden is growing you should check out the Moore's CSA we are getting great radishs and tomatoes. Let me know if you are interested well be happy to include you in our group. :)