Relish the Radish

French breakfast radishes

As newlyweds, Matt and I moved from Dallas to a rental house in Yukon, Oklahoma, with 2 1/2 acres and some neglected raised beds. We spent many summer nights sitting on the front porch dreaming about what we would do if the house, the lot, the trees, the garden were ours. So much possibility. I didn’t know what I was doing but I was anxious to get my hands dirty, so I cleaned out the raised beds and got started by planting radish seeds in that first garden. I don’t remember if it was a conscious decision, but I now realize it was a good choice since radishes are known for being an easy grower. They are quick to germinate, giving the anxious greenhorn a sense of accomplishment from the first tiny sprouts.  It’s also easy to tell when they are ready to harvest. My first root vegetable!, I cheered. “Root vegetable” sounded so cool; it gave the humble radish some stature.

Nearly five years later, this spring I planted radish seeds in the new garden at our new house in Oklahoma City. In A Homemade Life I read about the French practice of eating radishes with salt, butter, and baguette. That didn’t seem too far off to me; I remember summers as a young teen visiting family in Minnesota. At lunchtime (called dinner), grandma would put out a buffet of sandwich fixin’s. One variation was thinly sliced radishes between two pieces of butter-slathered sandwich bread. (Dessert would be a single slice of pillowy sandwich bread with layers of butter and peanut butter—seriously. layers.—with syrup stirred in with the tip of a knife.) I love how modest the combination looks, but quality ingredients—real butter, fresh bread, homegrown radishes—make it swoon-worthy.

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