Respect the radish!

Read the seed packets: April Cross, Bunny Tail, Cherry Belle. Even the names of radishes sound like springtime. One of the easiest and fastest vegetables to grow, spring radishes (as opposed to their larger winter cousins) can go from seed to plate in about a month. Cherry Belles, with their greens and tails trimmed, are an essential part of any relish or crudites plate, right beside the carrot and celery sticks. In my WASPy childhood, that was the only place you ever saw a radish, unless it was carved into a rose to garnish a platter. These days, radishes are blooming on all kinds of dishes. Their crisp, peppery bite provides the perfect contrast to the richness of fatty meats—that’s why they’ve always been a perfect garnish for Mexican food. Spanish colonists brought radishes with them to Mexico in the 16th century and radishes have been a standard taco garnish ever since. (Oaxaca, in one of the world’s oddest food festivals, celebrates La Noche de los Rabanos—Night of the Radishes—when local artists create sculptures from giant Mexican radishes.)

— written by MARY BROWN MALOUF

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