I had a funny enounter in the produce aisle of the grocery store. I was standing in front of the lettuce, trying to decide whether to get red or green leaf. The man standing next to me turned and asked politely, “Excuse me, but what do you call these?”
He was looking at the radishes, but he couldn’t figure out which sign went with them to indicate the price. I pointed to the one that said “Radishes, 49 cents” and said, with a smile, “radishes.”
“Thank you!” he said, relieved. I turned back to him as he was putting his radishes in a bag, and I asked, politely, “What do you call them?” He looked and sounded Hispanic, so I assumed he would give me the Spanish translation.
“Rábanos,” he replied. Except that with his accent, the “b” sounded much like a “v,” and it sounded like he said, “RAVENOUS!”
I started giggling, and I couldn’t stop. He looked rather puzzled, so I explained it to him. “In English, ‘ravenous’ means very, very hungry!” I patted my tummy for emphasis and repeated, “RAVENOUS!”
Now he was laughing, too. “RAVENOUS!” he said. With a shared grin, we each continued our shopping.
A few minutes later, after picking out my fruit and milk, I started down the aisle with the cat food. At the other end of the aisle, I spied my ravenous friend, and he spied me. We both shouted, “Ravenous!” and started laughing hysterically.
A couple aisles further along, I found Barry near the peanut butter. Before I could tell him what happened, along came my new friend. “Ravenous!” we shouted, in unison, laughing. Barry was completely mystified by my strange behavior, until I explained the encounter over the radishes.
The encounter took me back even further, to my first office job. There was a woman who worked in our office who used to say, when it was time for a snack break, “I’m ravished!” It was a contraction of ravenous and famished, but it got funny looks from people who didn’t know her.
I’ve always loved radishes, raw, with dip. Or sliced, thin, and marinated in light salad dressing. But now I find they’re good roasted or stir-fried, too. And I’ve stopped throwing the greens away, since they can be washed thoroughly (they are amazingly full of sand) and tossed into a stew or stir-fry as well.
I know radishes are good for my health, and not just because they’re low calorie and full of fiber. They’re good for me, because they make me laugh out loud: “RÁBANOS!”