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.