Thursday, May 17, 2007

Make my Daikon!


I woke up at six, googled a picture of a Daikon and made breakfast. The Great Big Vegetable Challenge would grind to a halt unless I could find a D vegetable. I walked the children to school and got on the tube, deciding to stop off in Chinatown. I had a twenty minute window to spot a Daikon and buy it before getting to a meeting in Westminster. No pressure or anything.
In my mind I had imagined that at nine in the morning, Chinatown would be bustling, a bit like a scaled down version of a Hong Kong market. It was empty. So there I was with my printed off picture, smudged in the rain, squinting through the windows of grocery stores, searching for the elusive Daikon. I spoke to the men delivering boxes of produce. They were civil but clearly thought I was one sandwich short of a picnic. I forced my way into one store which hadn't properly opened. Inside were shelves of things that must have been fruit and veg from outer space. It looked like the bar in Moss Isley in Star Wars full of species with huge spiky points and lurid green skins. My Daikon looked friendly in comparison. But he wasn't there - clearly too ordinary to feature in this shop. Three stores later and I was running out of time and ready to give up. My last hope was this cornershop. And there they were. A crate of long white radishes tinged with green. I asked the shopkeeper what they were. He didn't speak English and I couldn't speak Chinese. I accosted other shoppers. A Malaysian man unplugged his ipod and gave the Daikon a positive identification. I rushed to Westminster with this huge Daikon lurking in my bag, only five minutes late.
Now I don't know if Daikons are meant to have a personal hygiene problem but I did notice that on the Tube journey home, people were giving me a wide berth.


  1. This is just a great story. The Great Big Vegetable Challenge is obviously a challenge with the letter d. I'm glad you found the veg in the end and I hope it tastes good and was worth the challenge!!
    My sister has a 3 year old and I am going to tell her all about your site because it is truely inspirational.
    May I add you to my links as your site would be a good reference for schools taking part in the year of food and farming which I am involved in as a teacher and a farmer's wife.
    Sara from farmingfriends

  2. Great Big Veg Challenge9:13 AM

    Sara - I would love you to link to the site. It would be brilliant to encourage schools and parents using the site to try out recipes.

    It is meant to be fun and about going on an adventure.

  3. Schmoof11:49 AM

    As soon as i saw the picture i thought "you can get them in Chinatown!!"... Of course you'd already worked that one out for yourself ;-)

    They look very similar to the chinese white turnip, which you use to make turnip cake:

    which is traditionally eaten at chinese new year. Perhaps bear it in mind for when it rolls round to T? I haven't met a single person who doesn't love it!

  4. Schmoof
    I think I may ask a British Chinese friend of mine to show me how to make the turnip cake...
    It's always better to be shown how to do something.

  5. Well done on an ambitious and successfull search! Daikon are new to me too!

  6. TopVeg8:00 PM

    Congratulations on finding the Daikon - I was going to suggest a dandelion leaf salad - a bit of a let down!
    Good luck with the Daikon cooking


  7. Anonymous11:13 PM

    Don't forget the other D vegetable: Dandelion!

  8. Hee Hee! Cracking story. I'm guessing looking at this Daikon that it is just an overgrown radish of sorts, so I have just the recipe for you. Working in Leeds today so will type it up tonight for you. And I'm sorry, the chocolate tart os all GONE!


  9. Hello,
    I love, no, adore, no, completly enjoyed your blog and your vegetable adventure! Yay for you! Yay for me for finding this site! I have a sweety 6 year old boy who has recently just given up on veggies and I showed him Freddie's photo's and explained what you are doing and it has inspired him to be more adventurous with veggies.
    I have a quick, very important question I was hoping you could help me with... can you tell me what camera you use to take your photo's with? I have been trying forever to get some good shots of the kids but it doesn't seem to be working out. There's a quality to yours that are just perfect!
    Thank you in advance!


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