Coleslaw with daikon & radishes and creamy dill-almond dressing

Daikon, radish, dill colesalw

We got some daikon from our CSA. Of course, daikon always reminds me of the giant radish spirit in Spirited Away. The night we ate this coleslaw, I lay awake for a while thinking about the film, which I love, obviously – as I’ve said a million times, I love the idea of spirits all around us – spirits of polluted rivers and giant radishes, spirits of animals, food and people. It all begins with a meal. On their journey to a new home, Chihiro and her family take a wrong turn. They stop for a meal in a strange place, and her parents eat with ridiculous greed. They eat like pigs, and as a result, they’re turned into pigs. So Chihiro is stuck on an island of spirits. She’s remarkably brave, and she faces all sorts of strangeness with pluck and sass. She takes a job in the boiler room of a bathhouse, and works her way up to the baths themselves, where she meets strange spirits of every shape. Throughout the film, food has the power to comfort or transform. It becomes a part of each creature’s identity and it forms part of the judgement leveled upon them. Chihiro’s friend Haku offers her a small berry to eat when she’s becoming transparent, and this makes her more solid. When the spirits complain of her foreign smell, Haku says that once she’s eaten their food for a few days she’ll smell like everyone else. And he offers her rice to eat to build her strength after an ordeal. At the other extreme, we have a polluted river spirit, made ill by all of the junk and dirt he’s swallowed, and No Face, who eats everyone in his path and becomes so huge that only Chihiro’s magic emetic dumpling will save him. What and how people and spirits eat becomes as much a part of who they are as their name, and when they forget their name they forget their history. It’s such a strange and wonderful film!

I like daikon raw, so I decided to combine it with cabbages and radishes, also from the farm, and to toss them all in a creamy (vegan) almond dill and caper dressing. I liked it a lot! It’s a nice combination of sweet, sharp and savory. Isaac liked it, too.

Here’s Bob Dylan with Spirit on the Water

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