We confess that we, too, used to use spring radishes for garnish rather than flavor, though they have the same bite we like in their close relatives the turnips. At best, we've put the ubiquitous Cherry Belle radishes onto a crudité platter, where our guests usually just ignore them. We decided it was time to expand our horizons.

The French have never neglected this vegetable the way we do. Indeed, the oblong type with a pink top and white bottom is called French Breakfast, though Western cultures no longer eat radishes so early in the morning. We took a cue from and served radishes alongside thick slabs of Acme bread and a pot of luscious European-style cultured butter. We put down a knife and let people slice rounds over the buttered slices. We like the casual nature of an appetizer that forces people to use their hands.

Photos by Melissa Schneider.

la cuisine française