Hack #2: Relishing the Radish

It’s time for a new food hack. This one is French-inspired. Consider the radish–eaten in a certain way, as a starter course, particularly at lunchtime.

Shortly after moving to Paris we were invited to a long Sunday lunch, family style, in the apartment of my husband’s administrative assistant. Traditional to such gatherings, there was a mixture of ages from toddlers to grandparents around the large dining table. There was a casual centerpiece of low flowers, printed cloth napkins and tablecloth, baskets of chewy baguette slices, small dishes of butter, and, of course, there was wine.

There was a small plate of elongated red radishes with short green stems already at each place setting. Also on the plate was a little pyramid of sea salt. After sitting down, our hostess said, “I will show one way we like to eat radishes in France.”

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She picked up a radish in one hand and a butter knife with the other. She smeared good French butter on the surface and, with her fingers, sprinkled sea salt over it all. She bit into the radish down to the stem.

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That was the first course of our first French family lunch.

Recently, a former Paris friend [who is American] was back in town for a visit and came to lunch “chez moi”. I planned to serve a small casserole of “Latvian Lasagna”.

But I wanted a different kind of starter from green salad. Early spring radish season was in full swing so that became the plan.

The best thing about French radishes is there is no harsh “bite” or spicy bitterness to them. They are simply a beautiful mouthful of sweetness,  crunch and moisture. Combined with creamy butter from those Norman-grass-eating cows and salt crystals from the sea, a single red radish becomes the perfect trilogy of beauty, taste, and satisfaction.

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My friend loved the surprisingly subtle combination of butter and radishes. She had forgotten how refreshing they were to eat. And how easy to prepare.

Another way to serve radishes is with homemade guacamole–simply mashed avocado, minced red onion, salt, pepper, and lime juice.

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radishes, guacamole and snacks for “wine and unwind” party

Buttered radishes would be an inspired idea to try anywhere else in the world–outside of France. You can’t call something so well known here as “inspired”, unless you are a foreigner. So, wherever you live, tantalize taste buds in an unexpected way, wow guests with a “new” starter, and veer away from always serving the same old green salad as a first course.

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french radishes in farmer’s market, laguna beach, california

11 thoughts on “Hack #2: Relishing the Radish

  1. Forty or so years ago, radishes had some heat in them. Now every radish I find (in the States, mind you) is completely tasteless. I notice a number of things like this. For one, cabbage doesn’t stink up the house anymore. I’d like to see that investigated.

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  2. Pingback: Wendy Hack #3: The Hard Boiled Egg | A Taste of Mind

  3. Wendy
    The radish blog brought back fond memories, once again, of my childhood on the farm. We always had a huge garden with 2 varieties of radishes. One was the traditional round radish and the other was elongated as in your blog. We used to eat the radishes with a piece of homemade bread heavily buttered. We did not use salt, unless we did not have homemade bread. Then we had little round clear glass vessels filled with salt for dipping the radish into. I remember, thanks to your blog, how the long radishes did not have the sharpness of the round ones.
    Your blogs are so great as many remind me of happy times I haven’t thought about in years!!!

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    • Jane, It’s not too late to try them this way. You can source good radishes and French butter in the U.S. It’s all about the ingredients. And the surprising combination…

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  4. The much maligned and lowly American radish gives way to the sweet French and rather royal radish in a starring role. Nothing like taking a tuber to new heights of taste and surprise. Love this one.

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  5. What beautiful pictures! I loved the crudité platter with wine. I also love the watermelon radish in salads. I hope you and Mark and your family have a wonderful summer.

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