Wednesday, January 02, 2008

R is for Radish and the Supertaster Test

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“We are going to try radishes tomorrow,” I announced.
“But I think I’m a Supertaster.” said Freddie as he sat in front of the television, watching a programme about fussy eaters. I had in mind a caped crusader saving the world by taking huge bites out of mounds of food. “I may have an extra powerful tongue for tasting,” he elaborated, “and that’s why supertasters don’t like things like vegetables.”
I looked up at the television to hear more. Apparently supertasters are not caped but they do have an unusually high number of taste buds, making them taste food more keenly. Freddie was convinced of his supertaster status. I was sceptical.

According to scientists at Yale University of Medicine 25% of people could be supertasters. On the internet there is even a simplified version of their taster test which we tried out.
1.Punch a 7mm whole in four small squares of paper.
2.Swab blue food colouring on to the tips of the tongue.
3.The tiny papillae that house the taste buds don’t absorb the blue dye, so they show up under a magnifying glass as tiny pink circles.
4.Place the paper with the punched out hole onto the tip of the tongue and count papillae through a magnifying glass.
5.Over 35 within the circle and you could be a supertaster.
(Incidentally if any of you have a fussy eater in the house, try the Supertaster Test and email us a picture...)
The entire family stood in a line with our blue-swabbed tongues hanging out in expectation. Our kitchen has a glass roof. A neighbour was looking down. I grinned back in embarrassment, my red face blushing and my blue tongue lolling. After intensive examination with a magnifying glass, we discovered that in the taste stakes we were all profoundly average. No excuses for Freddie. No avoiding the radishes.

So I bought a bunch of French breakfast radishes in the supermarket. As far as I know and I have asked around, the French do not eat radishes for breakfast but they do serve them thinly sliced on crusty bread with a little sea salt on the side to sprinkle on top, as an hors d’oeuvre,‘radis au beurre.’ These French breakfast radishes tasted milder than the smaller English versions but they have quite a kick. Alex loved them. Freddie hated them. But the bread and butter helped to earn this dish a modest 6 out of 10. On the naming and shaming fridge, the radishes remained in the “I hate” category.


1 Crusty French baguette
Unsalted French butter
1 bunch of French breakfast radishes
Sea salt to sprinkle
Slice the crusty bread at an angle to make longer slices. Wash the radishes and remove the green leaves at the stalk. Thinly slice them. Butter the bread and cover with the radish slices. Put some sea salt on the side to serve. (If you prefer salted butter, you won’t need the added salt.)
Any favourite radish dishes out there for us to try out?


  1. Freddie says supertaster, I say discerning palate...wink...wink..All the way to radishes now. Wish I had a wonderful recipe offering for you both.

  2. I would recommend growing your own radishes - very easy and they are quick to mature. Wait until late March or April and plant the seeds outside in a large deep pot, or the garden border, about 3cm apart. Fresh radishes are so much tastier and crunchier than the radishes you buy. And there's an extra bonus - you can stir fry the radish leaves as green veg and (my favourite) you can let the radishes flower and set seed and then eat the bright green pods scattered in salads - they are peppery and sweet and delicious!

    There is even a radish called "Rat's Tail" which is grown just for the extra long pods (like green rat's tails).

    Yale Uni hasn't proved you're a Supertaster Freddie - but we know you're a Super-veggie-taster.

    Happy veg tasting in 2008

  3. You would love the song "John Lee Supertaster" by They Might Be Giants! I tried to find a free version online but couldn't.

    ... and I'm with Freddie. Radishes are icky. We used to use them as a punishment during study sessions -- get a question wrong, eat a slice of radish. However, radishes were the champion vegetable of choice at the environmental education center where I used to work. Kids could plant a radish seed and come back just a few weeks later to see their radish all grown up. They loved it.

  4. I'm laughing at the image of the whole family standing there with blue tongues, waiting to be tested! But, regardless of the tongue-test, you are anything but average, as your determination to explore all the wonderful veggies of the world clearly demonstrates. Happy new year!

  5. I laughed at the image of your entire family testing their supertasting skills!

    It must be the hot topic right now - one of my other favourite bloggers, the Amateur Gourmet, had his friend Lisa tested. (You can watch it here.)

  6. I will admit, I've never seen the point of radishes. I didn't enjoy them in salads and my parents never came up with any other way to serve them (perhaps I'm a supertaster myself..?). I'll be watching to see if you - and Freddie - can unlock the tastiness of this little veg.

  7. That was a good post! I am with Freddie, I just can't get a taste for radishes, but I won't go as far as the tongue test! I wish you had filmed that!

    Oh and Happy New Year to you and your family!

  8. curiouscat12:16 AM

    I've looked up the beetroot risotto recipe and would like to know whether the beetroot is to be cooked first or whether it should be shreded raw?


  9. Love the image of you all with blue tongues and a peering neighbour!

    I'm a bit 'take it or leave it' with radishes, but having randomly bought a huge bunch in the market one day had to eat my way through them. Hence I can highly recommend Mananandi's Radish-Potato Curry

  10. Great Big Veg8:14 AM

    It was one of our stranger moments...Though I suspect most days we put on a show. Thank you for the radish potato curry link. We will take alook at that today.

    Curious Cat - The beetroot risotto recipe that I have now worked on at home uses cooked beetroot, - lightly steamed, and then cut into small cubes.

    Holler - Happy New Year to you too!

    Anne Marie - you will never know unless you give yourself a blue tongue. But make sure you do it in a public place to entertain others!

    Cindy - That is very funny. Thanks for the link. Its clearly all the rage!

    Lydia - thank you very much for your encouraging words. I think as Magic Cochin said he knows he is a super veggie taster now! He is brilliant at trying new things.

    Amber and Magic Cochin - You both recommended growing them - which we will - Can we do that in a little tomato bag type grpowing sack - as we dont have a great deal of soil in our tiny garden!

    Bellini - Thanks for your comment. A discerning palate - definitely nowadays> A year ago maybe not so discerning - more a closed palate!!

  11. Anonymous9:46 AM

    Hello Freddie & mum, I am also in search for vegie recipes that will get my 18 month old to eat. Can you believe, he is only 18 months old and he doesn't like vegies? Except sweetcorn like Freddie, but not potato. I tried the Runza recipe tonight and it was a great hit with me & the husband. Will have to try it on the boy when he wakes up tomorrow.
    How come your A to Z recipes at the bottom of your blog only go up to "E"? Where are the rest of them? I am going to try the beetroot risotto next! Keep up the good work Freddie. Your mother is inspirational.

    From Carolina (Sydney, Australia)

  12. I was just discussing this with my mother in-law who is here with us from Spain. They stop at a hotel in France on route to us that has a very good restaurant. She said they serve an amuse bouche (spelling?) of very thinly sliced radish layered with cream and a little parsley. Served in tiny, tiny cups, smaller than an espresso cup. I'm guessing the cream is seasoned with salt and pepper??

    I'm not a big radish fan but I do like it finely shredded and lightly stir fried with teriyaki sauce. I would probably love anything with teriyaki sauce on it though!

    Happy New Year GBVC!

  13. I've a couple of good radish recipes, do you want me to email them?


  14. David - please do - I would love to try one. Tonight we are trying out Anne's Swedish radish and cheese salad...always happy to try one of your recipes as they have a very high strike rate!

  15. Try cooking the radishes. Cooking the radishes brings out their natural sweetness. I've tried them roasted in the oven with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper to great results. You'd never know they were radishes, they sweetened up so nicely!

  16. Erika W
    I will - Freddis has said, "Just DO somethign with them - make them cooking may be my next move

  17. Anonymous11:11 PM

    From a A Veggie Venture

    Hands-on time: 15 minutes
    Time to table: 1 hour
    Serves 4

    Water to cover plus some
    8 ounces of radishes (peeled and grated if black, grated if red)

    White Sauce:
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    1 tablespoon flour
    1/2 cup hot radish water (or equivalent amount of milk)
    1/2 cup milk (tonight, whole milk but I often use 2% or 1% or even skim, fyi the recipe does call for cream but I just don't find the extra richness necessary)
    1 teaspoon sugar (next time, skip this)
    1/2 teaspoon pimenton (or paprika or nutmeg might be good too)
    Salt to taste.

    In a medium saucepan, bring enough water plus some to cover the radishes (just estimate the right amount) to boil. Meanwhile, peel and grate the radishes. Add them to the boiling water and let simmer until cooked, about 20 minutes -- try to end up with about a half cup of radish water left over.

    When the radishes are nearly cooked, start the white sauce by heating a medium saucepan over MEDIUM heat. Add the butter and let melt. Add the flour and stir in until all the lumps are gone, stirring the whole time, about 1 minute. (This minute's important to remove the a floury taste.) Slowly-slowly-few-drops-by-few-drops to start, add the hot radish water, stirring the whole while. As you stir, the liquid will be absorbed into the flour mixture and seize up. Add a few more drops, stir, a bit more, stir, a bit more, stir. If you add it too quickly, the sauce will be lumpy and nasty. The technique is quite easy, just start with a little til you get the feel for it. Add the milk in the same way. Stir in the cooked radishes, then the pimenton, cook for 2-3 more minutes until completely hot. Season to taste and serve.

    Per Serving: 61 Cal (57% from Fat, 11% from Protein, 32% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 5 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 16 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 39 mg Sodium; 12 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

    The Finnish Cookbook

  18. Anonymous7:39 PM

    I made this for the first time last week, for my somewhat Veg-phobic partner. He guessed they were potatoes (they don't ,really taste like potatoes--they've got a bit more snap). They were eaten right up, and I'm making them again this week.

    Braised & Glazed Radishes (modified from Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarisn)

    Peel and cut radishes into chunks. Combine with 1-2 T butter & 1/2 c veg. stock, in medium saucepan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and adjust heat to simmer. Simmer until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Uncover and boil off almost all liquid, to get glaze. Garnish with chopped parsley, maybe a little lemon juice.

  19. This post made my chuckle as I pictured you with your blue tongues!

  20. Anonymous8:17 PM

    Great Site, Charlotte. Some very interesting recipes so far. Looking forward to X!!!

  21. We just did the supertaster test too, and it was pretty amusing! Here's our experience.



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