But my relationship with radishes has undergone a radical transformation. You might even say we're in love. It's all due to butter, salt, and of course, the French. As in the best love stories - or perhaps more accurately 1930s screwball romances - the dramatic conclusion was not reached without some initial animosity, some madcap misadventure, and (hopefully) a good dose of witty banter.
It all started when I flicked the TV on and caught the end of an episode of No Reservations. There I saw Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert chowing down and having foodgasms over ... radishes?!? How could this be? Well, it wasn't just radishes - the dish they were enjoying was a classic French snack in which radishes were teamed up with salt and butter.
To say that I was extremely skeptical that radishes could ever hold any appeal for me is an understatement. But Poppa Trix and I had been wanting to make our own butter for some time. We were curious to witness the strange alchemy in which cream turns into something else entirely. We half-doubted it could even be done - I mean, who makes butter in the middle of a city, miles from any farm? Giving radishes one last shot seemed like the perfect excuse to try.
So Poppa Trix and I dutifully started shaking up some cream in a clean pickle jar. We put on butter-churning music. (Zydeco.) And we shook. And shook. And sweat. And shook. And got dead arm. And then shook some more. Truth be told, I didn't last that long before I handed the jar off. No wonder pioneer women were so tough! We were beginning to lose hope that anything was going to happen, but suddenly Poppa Trix announced that there was no longer any liquid sloshing about in the pickle jar.
Could this be it? Had we done it? We slowly and carefully unscrewed the jar top, half expecting some hideous thing to explode out of it. But we were greeted with a jar full of beautiful, white, creamy fluff. It seemed as if the volume of the jar's contents had doubled in size. Alchemy indeed!
"Wait," I said. "How is this different from whipped cream?" Poppa Trix's face clouded over for just an instant. "It must be different," he said. "We made butter."
But I wasn't so sure anymore. What we made was good, to be sure, but I was beginning to suspect it wasn't butter. A little research revealed that in fact we stopped just a bit too soon. If we had kept shaking, eventually our whipped cream would have separated into butter and buttermilk. We were so close!
By this time, Poppa Trix had lost the will to churn, and so I was on my own. In case things went sour, I took only half of our glorious whipped cream and redeposited it into the jar. I shook, and shook and shook. Nothing. I rolled it around on the ground. Nothing. Then I remembered reading about someone who stuck a marble in the jar to help get things moving. I didn't have a marble so I used a rubber wine cork. It immediately got stuck in the thick froth. But in a true case of mind over matter (thanks kung fu!) I forced my numb aching arm to keep shaking.
And then I saw it. A little drop of liquid in the jar. Buttermilk! Suddenly, it happened: a wet muffled plop. Houston, we have butter. I took my little lump out and lovingly rinsed it off. Poppa Trix was duly impressed. Now we would eat radishes with salt!
Perhaps it was the excitement of having made my own butter, but I don't think so. Everything I hated about radishes - their bitter peppery flavor with the unpleasant aftertaste - was transformed by the butter and salt. What had seemed an excess of pepper, now seemed perfectly in balance against the salt. What had seemed like a bitter watery tang, now worked in harmony with the sweet creaminess of the butter. I found myself speaking words I never thought I would utter: "More radish, please."
Ah well, a brief taste of perfection is better than none at all.