Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Parsing Huena's pickles with relish

I don't get radishes.
said my mom, never.

I know lots of people do and that's okay, and sliced ever so carefully radishes can make lovely little decorative additions to a table; but of all the things that are available to eat, I rank the taste of radishes at the bottom.

Maybe if we are down to foraging for food.

But until that time?

Here's what I think of when I think radishes. When I was in university, one of my  housemates, Stuart Ziegler, took me to his family home for Passover and it was to this day one of the richest experiences in my life. Part of that meal was "bitter herb" which, Wikipedia tells us, "symbolizes the bitterness of slavery in Egypt... 'and they embittered their lives with hard labor, with mortar and bricks and with all the bricks and with all manner of labor in the field'..."

That's not only what bitter herb tastes like. Radishes do, too.

Radishes also remind me of when I was a kid growing up and my parents had company.

My mom, Huena, put out, as appetizers, little glass trays, which were never used for anything else, covered with what people called "pickles."

The glassware contained a variety of bite-sized foods that included radishes, olives, little white onions, pieces of red pepper and always, a green goopy sort of home-made wet grassy creation that mom called "pickles." ("Ooo" somebody would say, "Your aunt Kaye pickled these herself! They're delicious!" Somebody was lying.)
SECRET INGREDIENT: Maybe guests appreciate this more
if they're a little pickled themselves. 

If you were a nine-year old and actually liked anything that was on that "pickle plate," you probably also enjoyed homework and going to bed at 9:00 p.m.

I admit I was spoiled and an extremely fussy eater and didn't like anything that wasn't candy, french fried or covered in ketchup.

The only vegetables I remember enjoying (beyond corn on the cob) were "raided" from one of the local gardens  For some reason, swiped carrots tasted great. It was good to grow up in a neighbourhood filled with new Canadians.

I'm happy to report that my mom, a registered nurse, never ever once said, "You'll eat everything on your plate." She was far more likely to ask us what we wanted for dinner and then make it for us.

As far as I can tell, her nutrition M.O. was the same as mine: "Eat food that makes you happy. Happy people live longer."

What's really weird is this, despite that, I still don't like doing homework or going to bed at 9:00 p.m., but I might be the least picky eater you've ever met. If you showed up this very second -- it's just before 1:00 p.m., with one of those pickle plates, I'd likely down the whole thing.

Except of course, the radishes.

And the lesson in all this?

Don't blog on an empty stomach.

1 comment:

  1. You were fortunate indeed. In our house you could not leave the dinner table until you were done. Back then the bane of my existence was squash and turnip.
    I may get up earlier tomorrow so I can hate them longer.