I’ll be honest with you: it’s not very often I am asked the question ‘Where can one find the most expensive radish salad in Europe?’ But wisdom is not all about being able to answer common questions – it goes deeper than that. It asks more of a man.
So, though rarely badgered with this query, I am nonetheless content to shelter the solution. Which is this: in the town of Slvenica in Southern Croatia. And why, pray, is this salad so dear? It is because the radishes that go into it are taken from the field on which the ashes of the poet Goran Yadenic were tossed a couple of years ago.
Remember Yadenic? Ode to a Radish Field? Oh Sweet Radish of Mine? You may have stumbled across one of his radish-flavourished poems in Cosimo Totti’s Word Stew: Food and Eastern European Poetry (Aringa Press 1998). In any case, you won’t be surprised to hear that he was something of hero – not so much in his native Croatia (where he was considered somewhat of a charlatan) but most certainly in Hungary and, to a lesser extent, the Czech Republic. What Germans think of his work I do not know.
I think it would be fair to say that it is mostly Hungarians, however, who make the literary pilgramage to Yadenic’s radish field to sample the expensive delights of the salad inspired by (and making serious money off) the late rustic poet. That they are willing to pay such a heavy price to consume this salad is proof of their severe respect for Yadenic. And yet, for extreme Yadenic fans, they are a remarkably dozy lot. After all, none of them seem to have noticed that the field from which the radish salad radishes are taken is not, in fact, the field where Yadenic’s ashes were scattered. In fact, according to most reports, his ashes were never scattered at all and remain ensconsed in a terrocotta pot on the windowsill of his former lover, Petrov Chereva.
But perhaps I am missing the point of their pilgramage. Is it not the journey – rather than the destination – that matters? Maybe so, but that doesn’t stop the fact that someone, somewhere is getting overly rich from radishes.