Radishes and Butter

The photograph of a young boy eating radishes on a chunk of buttered baguette inspired me to plant radishes. I’d wait to taste them, crisp and peppery, freshly pulled from the earth. Supermarket radishes, often apple-sized and pithy, never thrilled me, but the white tipped, garden variety ready only for a couple of weeks in the spring would be worth an effort.

Most of my radish harvesting has been disappointing. In spite of the radish’s ability to sprout early and grow quickly, I usually reap leafy tops with miniscule roots. Or the root maggots bore holes in my crop before I get to them. But this year, a long, cool spring and the sandy soil of my community plot are giving me radishes of my dreams.  Small tufted green tops and rosy shoulders peek out of the soil. They may be small radishes, but they’re perfect, and a few each day give us the first garden fresh bites of home grown produce.

Radishes are said to strengthen the body. An inscription on the Great Pyramid in Egypt reports that slaves who built this monument ate great quantities of radishes and onions. Members of the cruciferous plant family, close to turnips and mustards, and known to sustain our immune systems, radishes pop up in every cultivating culture around the globe. They grow large and small; they’re eaten raw and cooked; and in Oaxaca, Mexico a major festival features the radish each December.

This season I’ll enjoy my radishes with bread, butter and a pinch of flaky Maldon salt, and when all I have is a bunch of leafy tops, I’ll make Radish Greens Soup.

                                                                            Mary Jo’s cookbook is available at Amazon.com    http://amzn.to/9lOnZv

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