In this third and final installation of The Food Book cover shoot story, Brent tells the tale of how he finally succeeded in taking the shot that has now infamously become known as “the radish cover”.

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Read Part I of the radish saga here

Read Part II of the radish saga here

It is American R&B recording artist Kelis and her studio album Tasty that provides the soundtrack for this instalment. With its bright red cover, it is the second of the album’s two hits that provides the words and sentiment to Part III of the radish saga – a song called Trick me.

You may think my taste in music is not really important to the story, but the context of using the song Trick Me as the soundtrack is. Because subtlety hidden within the lyrics of the catchy chorus of the computerised song, is the line “you might trick me once, but you’re not going to trick me twice”. And it suddenly dawned on me, has a simple radish on a cutting board indeed tricked me once and now tricked me twice?

The story begins now.

I feel Kelis’s pain my friends! Having delivered the reshot covers after finding yet another batch of reasonably perfect radishes, the phone rang. I don’t recall the exact conversation, because the pain in my head blocked all senses, but the end result was that Regine (The Food Book designer) and myself found ourselves in a tailspin facing the possibility of a third cover shoot.

I have been tricked once, tricked twice, but I will not be tricked a third time!

My Mum says some strange things, but at this moment I could hear her saying: “If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad then Muhammad must go to the mountain.” With this pearl of wisdom, I know what I must do. I must go to the mountain and pick my own radishes.

A few days later, Reg and I hatched a cunning plan. We would find a radish farmer and ask them if we could come over and play farmer for a day and pick our own radishes. A few phone calls later I was at a total loss. I needed help. I needed the perfect radish. It must have good leaves. It must be slightly dirty… but not too dirty. And it must look perfect on a bamboo cutting board (and the cutting board must be new but just beaten-up enough to have texture but without looking second hand!).

If there is one person that would have the answer for me it would be the president. So I called him.

The president of the Victorian Vegetable Growers association was very helpful. I told him of my endless search for the perfect radish and he gave me the number of one of his members. The phone call took place and for the second time that day, someone took pity on our radish situation and the farmer agreed to let Reg and I come and pick radishes for a day. 

I think it was a Thursday when Reg and I drove onto a very wet and muddy paddock. I grew up on a market garden but I felt like a total city slicker in my Converse sneakers and jeans. The rain was softly falling and Reg and I took shelter in the large shed. The smell of freshly washed carrots took me back to my childhood. It’s a great smell and very hard to describe – there is something really fresh and clean about that smell.

In the corner of the shed we hear a voice telling us to remove our city slicker shoes and replace them with farm attire if we ever wanted to wear our city slicker shoes again. I complied quickly, but Reg hesitated due to the style, colour and shape of the footwear of choice being offered. It was the funniest thing ever, to see Reg flopping around in oversized gumboots. (Am I showing my age if I refer to her restricted movement as the Cliff aka “Reg” Shuffle?). As Reg grew accustomed to the new footwear, she bravely admitted that this was the first time she had worn gumboots. (Side note: Later on during the day I did see Reg walk through water and marvel at such an invention as gumboots). 

With gumboots in place, Reg earned a new nickname: Farmer Reg! With Farmer Reg in the front seat of what can only be described as half tractor, half postie truck, we where taken quickly to a paddock of the best radishes we have ever seen. Well, it can be argued these are the only radishes we have seen in the ground anyway. It was quite exciting really! They were everywhere! “Take your pick,” the farmer said with a bemused tone. Where to start picking was the hardest part and the discussion quickly began on the various merits of each radish as we excitedly pulled them up from the soft chook-poo filled soil from the field of millions (again, much to the amusement of our farmer and guide!).

Farmer Reg and I headed back home from radish nirvana totally excited by the bags full of perfect radishes we had in tow.  Our conversation remained chipper even as we discussed the past failures.

I won’t take you through the final shooting process all over again for the third time, but let’s say it was same, same, but different. But this time the star radishes looked as if they where freshly pulled from the garden and brought in fresh ready to use in the next Food Book recipe.

The radish story ends here my new friends, with another quote that my Mum repeats quite often – “fact is always stranger than fiction”!

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