Leaf of the Day: Herbert’s Giant Radish and the Vegetable Police.

Yesterday I heard on the radio that, due to food shortages, it is becoming conceivable that the EU vegetable police who ensure that no deformed or non-conforming items of fruit and veg can disgrace the hallowed counters of the supermarkets, may in fact be relaxing their rules. Regardless of how things actually taste we have been subject to a dreary conformity and a quite horrible dumbing-down of the glorious variety of odd and interesting produce, just another symptom I suppose of a society that seems to value the superficial over the important.

“We ( now) want to have two classes, allowing supermarkets to sell funny shaped vegetables,” said Michael Mann, a spokesman for the European Commission.

Change however may be slow. The rules on bananas are remaining the same but at least cucumbers will be allowed to wriggle a bit.

I quote from the ‘Independent’ article all about knobbly veg here

The rules for bananas will remain unchanged, meaning both overly bendy and straight fruit cannot be labelled class one. EU directive 2257/1994 dictates that top bananas must be “free from malformation or abnormal curvature of the fingers”. Regulation bendiness helps speed packing and prevent damage in transportation. Class two bananas can have full-on “defects of shape”.

Directive 1677/88 stipulates that class one cucumbers may bend by 10mm for every 10cm of length. Class two cucumbers may bend twice as much. This will be relaxed.”

A footnote to the cucumbers is that enthusiasts will no doubt be very interested to know that a new and delightfully considerate variety has been developed to ensure propriety at that elegant afternoon tea party. You will be able to wolf down those dainty crustless cucumber sandwiches without fear once you have ascertained that your hostess has cultivated only the “Burpless Tasty Green” variety. According to the blurb, “the fruits are not giants like most other Japanese varieties – cut them when they are about 9in (23cm) long and enjoy the crisp, juicy flesh from which both bitterness and indigestibility have been eradicated.”

However, in support of the mishapen and the indigestible, I have made a sketch today of a giant of a radish. This I bought, along with a cobra shaped courgette, from Hector at the Winter Park Farmers market. He has some fine fruit and veg and some herbal teas that sound as though they would rival the yaupon holly drink for their purgative qualities. He and I talk about vegetables, be prepared for some more interesting specimens.

This radish is 3″ in diameter and a beautiful pale pink. Inside the same pink colouring radiates out in a starburst from the centre. I have no idea of the variety but it is a radish to be reckoned with.

Herbert’s Radish

Leaf of the Day: The Radish and a Poem about Salad!

Today the weather was perfect. I went to Winter Park village on my bike. They were cutting the grass in the park, real grass, British type lawn grass, the sort that you lie on in the summer. Not the horrible spiky indestructible stuff that that passes for grass now in many hotter climates. The indescribably wonderful smell of the new mown grass transported me back to summer days in England. All the lizards were out soaking up the sun and a brighter than bright, carroty red squirrel bounced across the grass. Utterly charming.!!

All this sun inspired me to get some salad for tea, hence the radish. The, now failing, New Year diet also dictates that I drag my reluctant feet away from the Key Lime Pie counter and towards the salad bar… but its not much of a hardship. Salad is my almost favourite food, especially with a lovely dressing.

It was just happy coincidence then, that when I returned home there was a poem about salad on the radio!!…a poem about salad?.
To hear it tune into the excellent BBC Radio4 Listen Again service to “Poetry Please” and hear “A Recipe for Salad” read by very nice chef Rick Stein. Listen to the whole programme or fast forward 9 minutes on the Radio 4 player for this poem alone http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/arts/poetryplease.shtml
I am not sure how long this link will be live so go while you can.
It was written in 1839 by poet and cleric Sidney Smith in a letter to a friend. Its delightful..

“A Recipe For Salad “ by Rev Sidney Smith

To make this condiment, your poet begs, The pounded yellow of two hard-boil’d eggs;
Two boil’d potatoes, pass’d through kitchen-sieve, Smoothness and softness to the salad give;
Let onion atoms lurk within the bowl, And, half-suspected, animate the whole.

Of mordant mustard add a single spoon,Distrust the condiment that bites so soon;
But deem it not, thou man of herbs, a fault, To add a double quantity of salt;
Four times the spoon with oil from Lucca brown, And twice with vinegar procured from town;
And, lastly, o’er the flavour’d compound toss , A magic soupcon of anchovy sauce.
Oh, green and glorious! Oh, herbaceous treat! ‘T would tempt the dying anchorite to eat;
Back to the world he’d turn his fleeting soul, And plunge his fingers in the salad bowl!
Serenely full, the epicure would say, Fate can not harm me, I have dined to-day!

Fate will not harm me either if I eat all the radishes and watercress I bought today!
The drawing had to be done super quickly as the leaves again wilted to nothing in half an hour. I have to find another way of keeping my models perky.
I will return to edible greens soon. I like them more than flowers really. I think it is something to do with being brought up in Lincolnshire surrounded by cabbages and mangle-worzels.


The Radish