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.”
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.