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Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

A breakfast of radishes -- no wonder Pepys remarked on this. Was food in short supply? Was this a fetish of the Purser, Andrew Pearse? Did the cook get fired for such an (un)imaginative offering? As so often is the case, Pepys leaves us hanging. Google to the rescue:

"Pickled radish seed pods were a delicacy in the 17th century and if you catch them right, they have all the crunch of a radish, but with a less fiery, somewhat greener flavour."

"Other radishes have been bred for winter eating, ... These tend to have much larger roots and need sowing in late summer, in order to put on enough growth before the winter. We grow the venerable ‘Black Spanish’ radish, first written about in 1548. As the name suggests, it has a jet black, rough outer skin, but the flesh is bright white. These are used for cooking in much the same way you’d use a turnip, but you can also eat them raw – a warning though – they can be very hot."

"Black radishes provided vital nutrients during the barren winter months of the Middle Ages, and Europeans heavily relied on the root’s cold tolerance and extended storage capabilities as a filling food source."

"It is important to note that the skin contains most of the spicy, peppery flavor. The skin is edible, but if a milder taste is desired, it can be peeled before eating. Black radishes can also be roasted, braised, fried, and sauteed. When cooked, the roots can be mashed and mixed with cheeses or sour cream to make a dip for appetizer plates or spread over roasted meats. Black radishes can also be stirred into potato and egg-based dishes, sliced thin and fried into chips, or diced and tossed into soups and stews."

Fried radishes for breakfast? Delicious?

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.


  • May