In celebration of fiery vegetables

Whilst most of us are choosing gammons and doing the mince pie bit, something very different is happening over in Mexico. They’re preparing for a festival on the 23rd of December, known as La Fiesta De Los Rábanos, or Radish Night.

Locals carve all kinds of radishes into wonderful shapes before preparing spicy and fiery dishes. And, of course, there’s plenty of dancing and fireworks to celebrate the humble radish.

While this is a traditional celebration, the vegetable madness elsewhere in the world might, in part, be inspired by French chef Alain Passard. 12 years ago, his new big focus was vegetables. Many chefs thought it would just be a phase, but the trend has grown and, by the sound of it, will continue to spread as more local and international chefs tend their own veggie gardens.


I was inspired last week at Haute Cabrière in Franschhoek. I enjoyed a tasting menu that consisted solely of veggies (apart from the chocolate dessert). Chef Ryan Shell made the most incredible asparagus custard with just-picked spears from his new vegetable garden, and a tomato broth that was pure essence of tomato – clean and fresh and perfect.

I didn’t see a radish in any of the dishes, but I have in the shops, in all colours and sizes like packets of marbles. I won’t be carving any, but I will be eating my home-grown crop like the French do: with a criss-cross cut at the top stuffed with cold butter and dipped into salt.


Photographs: Jeremy Bornson, Jordan Meeter, Migle Seikyte and Christjtse

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