The Surprise of a Winter Radish

By Emily Horton, Published: January 10

A cook’s highest compliment to a fruit or vegetable is simplicity of preparation. Think of a mid-August tomato, the disinclination to interrupt its sun-ripened flavor with anything more than a bit of salt. May’s first spears of asparagus, the ones so sweet and tender that cooking them seems almost uncivil.

Or consider radishes, one of winter’s most convincing arguments for eating seasonally.

 

In 1974, writing in “On Food,” James Beard talked of being smitten with radishes; a novice gardener, he favored them pulled and eaten straight from the ground (though he also declared them something of an epiphany when served with bread and butter or wrapped in a single anchovy fillet). There, his adoration was of spring radishes, the petite cherry-red and pink-tipped icicle varieties sold at markets in tidy bunches when the chill finally starts to slink away, as demure in flavor as their looks suggest.

But in the same essay, Beard also mentioned “huge, black radishes,” which he recommended grating and combining with chicken fat or goose fat as a spread for bread. Though he didn’t specify, Beard’s black radishes probably were a Spanish heirloom variety harvested in the cooler months of fall and winter, part of a family of robust winter radishes that cooks and growers are just beginning to rediscover.

READ MORE: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/the-surprise-of-a-winter-radish/2012/01/04/gIQAd5JKoP_story.html

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