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DAIKON – 12 Points


Daikon Radish

Roxane Gay is a scrabble champion.

I learned this while reading her book Bad Feminist, the one I found at Frenchy’s. Gay has her own scrabble board with pink tiles and a pink carrying bag. She especially loves anagrams, or ‘bingos’ in scrabble vernacular. That’s when you make a word from all seven tiles on your rack. This requires seeing things in a different way. Shifting then re-ordering. It’s hard, especially these days.

I raked the back yard yesterday and made a pile of old leaves and woody stalks from last year’s hydrangeas. Under the leaves, rolling around, were eleven lego Stormtrooper heads. I looked up, face to the sun, and spotted my son’s open window. There’s a lego base on his window sill, and last night was windy. I reached down to pick them up, finding one more where hints of rhubarb are trying to push through the soil.

Inside I scroll through photographs by Australian photographer Laura Reid. There are images of surfers, sunbathers and outdoor swimming pools. I pause on a woman doing a handstand in a Sydney rock pool. The water is emerald green, her suit is red. I print it off and paste it into my notebook.

I walk to the small grocery store that sells baked goods and local produce. I’m hunting for warmth and colour, even though my rhubarb is six weeks away. I put microgreens in my basket, the kind that have grown gently under lights, along with a cluster of a curiously green radish. Pickings are slim.

The bag of curiosity lands on the kitchen counter with a thud. They are oblong and fatter than a carrot, with dangling roots and scruffy green tops. I’m not sure what to do with them, so I start by cutting through the skin. Inside the flesh is white, with gentle touches of lacy green around the edge. I pull out my new madoline and slice it thinly. The slices taste fresh, crisp and juicy, without the bite of a pink radish. I hold one to the window. It looks like stained glass.

The next day, I mash a can of pinto beans with sea salt, pepper and a good amount of adobo sauce left over from a tin of chipotles. I top this mound of brown with micro greens and thin slices of crisp white rimmed with green lace. I call the grocery store and ask the owner what it is, exactly, that I’m slicing? Green daikon, she says. A winter radish, mild and juicy. Aren’t they lovely?

I dance finely sliced daikon over salads and fish tacos. I dip them in hummus. I find more cans of beans in the back of the cupboard to mash and use as a backdrop for the slices. This food, this kitchen, this city, is shifting and re-ordering.

There is no anagram for D A I K O N. But you can make 52 English words from the letters. My favourite is KINDA – 10 points.

As in, It’s kinda the thing I needed.

Daikon raw