The obsession began while watching bad-boy chef Anthony Bourdain swooning over an open-faced sandwich made with crusty bread, a smear of butter and sliced radishes.
This man is a hard-core meat-eater. He eats anything with a face, and usually his favorite parts are the face, liver, heart, feet. You get my point.
Anyway, I am watching him on No Reservations (10 p.m. Mondays, Travel Channel) and he's loving the simplicity of this sandwich. With a glass of wine, of course.
Within weeks I come across two radish recipes in different cooking magazines: a simple cucumber and radish salad and another for roasted radishes. I am intrigued, but can't get motivated by the sad little plastic packages of radishes at the grocery story.
Then I see them. Beautiful bundles of fresh-picked radishes at Worden Farm's stall at St. Petersburg's Saturday Morning Market. Two different kinds and both with their green tops, roots and a bit of dirt still attached. One is the very round, very red variety that I suspect was in that plastic bag at the grocery. Lots of heat in those radishes.
The other is a delicate pink, elongated version. I learn they are called French breakfast radishes. I buy each for $2 a bundle and take them home to experiment. I do this for three weeks straight.
I make the Cucumber Salad With Radish and Dill from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. A perfect accompaniment to grilled salmon, but it does not keep. Make it and eat it within a few hours. It looked old, sad and tired the next day.
I am skeptical of the roasted radish recipe from Saveur. Since the little crucifers are mostly water, I fear they will fall apart or just implode in a heap. But they don't and the roasting makes them soft and subtle. No heat left, just a bit of earthiness, almost like a beet but not as dense. (The recipe calls for an assortment of radishes, even purple ones. I stick to the two I can find.)
I come up with a radish spread that combines cream cheese and goat cheese with the radishes and other veggies I have in the fridge. This keeps for days and we spread it on crackers and bagels.
Then I try the sandwich, the one that Bourdain loved so much. The baguette slice, smear of butter, thinly sliced radishes and a sprinkle of coarse salt. I swoon, too.
Karen Pryslopski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.