You know it's going to be strange when I submit a blog post with a title like that.
This started when a friend on twitter, who lives in China, casually commented on a vegetable with an odd, hard to translate (i.e., cryptically idiomatic) name. The photo he enclosed of the feast he was having included a beautiful vegetable that I thought might be one of their local fresh pickles (fresh in the sense of being pickled only for a few days or weeks, rather than the truly long-term pickling processes, and/or fermented products such as kimchee, etc.). The colors reminded me of amaranth, but it was clearly a sliced root vegetable with the texture / appearance of a daikon radish, and the colors of a watermelon candy - pastel pink, a ring of white, and an edge of pale green. It certainly looked tasty, but he reported a name [ 心灵美 ] that translated as "beautiful soul" - so you can see why it became a tantalizing msytery. Still, many favored dishes and foods have poetically unhelpful names, like "空心菜" ["hollow heart vegetable"]. She apparently suggested to him that it was a carrot. I was pretty confident it was not, and when he said it tasted more like a radish, I had hope.
I started searching around on variants of radish (not terribly helpful) and then tried adding the characters and vegetable, and eventuauly found a hilarious artist in Beijing who uses vegetables to create collages. Enjoy the image here:
The title translates to "soul kiss radish" and as you can see is a funny homage to Klimt. It's worth poking around the rest of the site to enjoy the images, it really is sweet.
From there I was able to do a little further searching and figure out that unless you use the full "心灵美萝卜" it won't appear in the vegetable category of words. I also found that in the States, (somewhere at least - no where I'd ever seen it but...) it's called Watermelon radish. By whatever name, it looks delicious and I think I'm going to have to see if I can grow some.
Enjoy the 'soul food'!