So, Thomas and I have a kind of ritual. When I inevitably have to haul him to the grocery store with me, he whines. And I can’t blame him. To a five-year-old boy, the grocery store is only slightly less annoying than the dentist’s office. So our game is that he can pick something new, and I have to figure out how to make it palatable.
This time around, I took him to Whole Foods. We’d been driving around on a Saturday morning, half-heartedly looking for yard sales after stopping at Starbucks for sustenance – our mother-son Saturday ritual. We ended up near a Whole Foods, and, well, I remembered we were out of milk and sugar, so in we went.
To a kid for whom Whole Foods is not a regular experience, because we're not the Rockefellers, it can be a little daunting. Crazy fruits! Exotic vegetables! Hold on – are those snails? In cans?
So I knew it would be kind of a challenge for me. I was abjectly panicking when he hit the cans of escargot, wondering if I was going to have to figure out how to cook f*cking snails on my electric range.
(Side note: Whole Foods baffles me. I love its exoticism and I admire its twee and intense passion towards the eco-friendly, the arrestingly healthy, the hand-crafted. But to shop there for basic staples is an exercise in mind-boggling wastefulness. The cheapest sugar I could find there? $2.39. For a pound of organic cane sugar, presumably hand-tilled or whatever by Tibetan one-eyed virgins.)
Imagine my relief when he decided on the daikon radish. With which I am not at all familiar, but at least it wasn’t a g*ddamned invertebrate.
So, home with the startlingly-phallic daikon. I asked for advice online, and the most family-friendly idea was pickling it overnight, which seemed like a surefire winner. Thomas loves pickles, so anything with vinegar seemed like a slam-dunk.
Chop up the radish, salt it, let it sit in the fridge. Drain it, douse it with vinegar and pepper and sesame oil, put it back in the fridge overnight. Easy, right?
HERE IS WHAT THEY DON’T TELL YOU ABOUT THE DAIKON RADISH. THIS RIGHT HERE:
Within several hours, we were all making faces as we passed through the kitchen. Sort of unconsciously, barely noticing anything, but in that “Jesus, we need to clean out the fridge” kind of way.
By 10:00pm CST, the kitchen was a total no-fly zone. And it was all the fault of the bowl of pickling radish in the fridge. Opening the fridge was like opening the door on every reeking horror of your childhood, multiplied by a thousand. The near-tangible stench of this stuff would have stopped Freddy f*cking Krueger in his tracks and sent him screaming into the night.
But I persevered. I had to. I left it in the fridge. This was a lesson. In trying new things.
So today we pulled out the dish of radishes.
Thomas: THAT STINKS LIKE ROTTING GARBAGE.
Me: It might taste good. Sometimes stinky things taste good. Like cheese. (Can you hear the desperation in my voice?)
Thomas: I dare you to take a bite.
So I got a fork and speared a chunk of radish, trying to keep from gagging, and took a bite. Surprisingly, the texture of radish held up – it was still crunchy. But God, it smelled like chilled death. Chewing it only made the smell magnify in my mouth (Holy sh!t, I could taste the smell). And I chickened out and made a run for the sink, making any number of ungodly, undignified noises as I spit it out and desperately rinsed my mouth out.
Afterwards, trying to save face, I said brightly, “Well, you’ve gotta try everything once, right?” to Thomas’s seriously skeptical face. He looked at me a long moment. He went into the powder room off the kitchen. And he came back with the citrus air-freshener spray and made a circuit of the entire room, with one spray in the fridge for good measure. And departed for Spongebob Squarepants with one last withering look my way.
The Moral of the Story According to Thomas: "Sometimes you should just stick to strawberry tarts. "