The deep coloured greenery swelled out and spilled over the top of the plastic carrier bag in which I had been given it. Hidden beneath the massive aromatic foliage were more interesting items. There were three pak choi and one mooli. I walked into the residential home at lunch time with the bag plus a pack of raspberries I stopped to buy on the way and I got some curious looks from the staff.
She immediately wanted to know what I was carrying. I got her to feel through the foliage and the thin stalks. Still not sure; I encouraged her to nibble at a little of a leaf. Yes, it tasted of something but what? She sniffed the green bunch and stroked the stalks. Realisation; her mother used to grow this type of celery and use it in soups, make soup with it and put it in meat and gravy. She couldn’t remember how long ago, but it made for a good flavour. She was thinking while I gave my ideas for preparing the pak choi and the mooli. Did it have a sharp and hot radish flavour, she wanted to know and could it be boiled or steamed.
The raspberries, which all got eaten, evoked thoughts of puddings, jam and an enamel bucket used for collecting and cooking them in, in times long past.
On my way out, staff asked me about the greenery. One, a Bulgarian, did not know pak choi, but bemoaned the fate of her garden back home without her. A local lady had no idea about any of the vegetables, but was fascinated. A Chinese carer squealed with delight when she saw the mooli and was thrilled to hear we called the the little vegetable and the pack choi the same names she knew them by.