Friday June 01, 2012 | 12:04 PM

My colleague Karen eats radishes raw at her desk sometimes - often with the same hand-to-mouth enthusiasm I used to save for Goldfish crackers.

I figured she must be onto something, some root vegetable delight that I'd never had the pleasure of knowing, so I tried one.

It was expectedly crisp. And unexpectedly hot. (I'm Finnish, folks. And my people are sensitive to food that's any spicier than a potato.) I didn't beg Karen for more. I didn't set a small fire in the lunchroom to distract her, like I might be inclined to do if I actually wanted to steal the bag of remaining radishes from her desk. Radishes and I just didn't click.

But on Wednesday, there they were, lounging in a lazy bundle at the Monument Square farmer's market. I wanted them, and I didn't know why.

Maybe it's their permanent blush, which gives them an endearing oh-dear-I'm-so-embarrassed look. Maybe it's their impatience, which makes them germinate in less time than it take me to return a rented video to Red Box. Maybe it's because radishes are considered "companion plants" because they attract garden pests away from other plants. And who couldn't appreciate a friend like that?

So I took some home. And then I searched around for ideas on what to do with them. The answer: butter and sauté

Heat butter in a pan on medium-low heat. Add some thyme (which yours truly just happened to have growing outside because I bought a thyme plant at the farmer's market last week and I haven't killed the herb just yet). Add some quartered (or some halved, in my case) radishes and cook until warmed through. Turn up the heat to give them that browned, just-back-from-vacation complexion. Finally, salt them like you mean it.

And they will be good. So very good. I wish I'd bought more. Going forward, I will not hesitate to set a small fire in the lunchroom to lure Karen away from her desk and away from her radishes. I mean my radishes.

Oh, also, nice radish fact: Citizens of Oaxaca, Mexico, celebrate the radish in a festival called Noche de los Rábanos (Night of the Radishes) on December 23 as a part of Christmas celebrations. Locals carve religious and popular figures out of radishes and display them in the town square.

 

About the Author

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Shannon Bryan is a feature writer for the Portland Press Herald and content producer for MaineToday Media's entertainment website, www.mainetoday.com.

And here's a well-known truth: Shannon can't cook. She's also ostroconophobic (in Maine?!?), but in a foodie place like southern Maine, she's determined to learn how to cook, eat, and order with the best of them. Read about her culinary crusade:
Pans on fire

She's also an investigator into all that's strange and entertaining to do around here. Those findings are gathered here:
Out Going: Things to do in southern Maine

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