TGIF, am I right? This week has been a hot one, and the heat combined with some super annoying electrical issues in my building has had me trying to keep my oven use to a minimum. These savory toasts are super bright and colorful, easy to make and don’t involve your oven (…if you have a toaster)!
The bright slices of radish that top these super toasts add a crisp garnish and give us an excuse to discuss this incredibly bizarre painting by Mexican artist Diego Rivera. Married to Frida Kahlo, Rivera was a prominent Mexican artist in the first half of the twentieth century, and a major force in the development of national public art throughout Mexico during this time. He spent some time in Europe early in his career, and his colorful and highly detailed murals show a Renaissance influence.
Temptation of Saint Anthony was painted in 1947, and was a departure from his large-scale mural work. This wacky painting depicts a scene from the legend of St. Anthony, the early follower of Jesus who renounced all his worldly possessions and became a desert monk. St. Anthony faced all kinds of weird supernatural temptations as the devil attempted to test his faith, but he never swayed from his beliefs. In this picture, St. Anthony is depicted as the large radish figure reclining in the left corner, being attacked by other more phallic radish figures who are meant to represent physical embodiments of the devil. St. Anthony’s root-like arms are raised up in defense, and the figure closest to him (who is arguably the scariest and phallic-iest) has root-horns and carries a pitchfork, revealing himself to be the embodiment of evil.
The legend of St. Anthony was one of the most well-known stories of the Middle Ages, and not surprisingly, it inspired plenty of strange and unique representations in art. Rivera was probably inspired to add the radish figures as a nod to contemporary Mexican heritage; The Night of the Radishes is an annual festival in Oaxaca where over 100 radish sculptors compete for a cash prize and the honor of carving the best radish that year.
These tiny sliced radishes are by no means contest-winning sculptures, but I think their bright hue and refreshing crunch are more than worthy on these toasts!
Featured art: Diego Rivera, Temptation of Saint Anthony, 1947, oil on canvas