Summer Cooking, 2: the Radish

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. It’s more that I’m puzzled.

My mother-in-law planted a vegetable garden down here, as she always does, hoping that we’d reap the harvest. Tomatoes, beans, and carrots are coming on. We’ve reveled in herbs, lettuce, and scallions. But what about the radish? They came on just great. But what’s the point? They are prickly to pick, their greens are unwieldly, they are often bitter. I carry a huge bunch of greens to the kitchen, dirt dripping down, a grimy popsicle-stained (but nonetheless beloved) toddler at my heels. The tops are too woody to snap off so I have to use a knife. They are too crusted with dirt, so I have to scrub with steel wool or that curly plastic stuff. Then, I cut off the tops and tails. Then, my husband announces he doesn’t really like them anyway, so I stick them in a Ziploc bag to await the day when they’ll spoil on the floor of the vegetable drawer.

Who discovered these tubers? Who decided them worth the effort?

They are quite pretty when washed, it’s true. But this summer, I can’t even be bothered to make my nummy radish, dill & cream cheese sandwich.