Today’s recipe is not even a recipe. It’s an idea, a thought, a fleeting memory. Memory of my childhood and sunny summers at the cottage (dacha as we called it in Russia). Memory of grandma working in her garden since before the sunrise and often past the sunset, pulling weeds, painstakingly checking every leaf on her berry shrubs for bugs and gossiping with neighbours while pulling, probing, weeding. Memory of grandpa watering the flowers, fixing the cottage, using his tools, saying high to passerbyes. Memory of them discovering the first juicy tomato of the season in our small hot house and giving it to me without even a thought of trying it themselves. Memory of giving me the last of the season’s strawberries knowing that they won’t be able to have them for another year. Memory of them trying to instill in me the love of food, fresh produce and homemade meals. Memory of days spent in hammock reading books and without any care in the world. Memory of them letting me enjoy my childhood carefree and without any worries, without making me help them in the garden. Memory of spending evenings listening to the radio with just candles when there was no electricity and playing solitaire. And again, memory of food, lovingly prepared with scarce ingredients that if weren’t grown during the summer in the garden, were very difficult to buy at the stores during that turbulent time in Soviet Union.
Canning, pickling, preserving. Day in and day out. The smell of fruit and sugar in the air.
And finally, the memory of radishes, just pulled from the earth, rinsed under the clearest well water. Radishes still warm from the sun. Radishes piled on a plate that we then cut in half, added a thick smear of real country side butter and sprinkled with salt. Plain salt. Not the fancy sea salt that no-one could buy back then. And big crusty slice of dark rye bread.
It wasn’t a dinner, nor was it a lunch. It was a snack. Eaten while grandparents enjoyed a few short minutes of rest, before they went back to pulling weeds, fixing flower beds and caring for the dacha. Leaving me to enjoy my carefree childhood, occasionally bringing me the juiciest vegetables and the sweetest fruits, endlessly and selflessly loving me. Giving me the greatest gift that they could – memories.
Radishes with Butter and Salt
Coarse sea salt
There’s no real recipe. Just slice each radish in half, smear each half with a generous amount of softened butter and sprinkle with salt. I like using spicy chilli salt to add a bit of a kick.