Foods That Inspire

I am grateful for radishes: not because they're my favorite vegetable, but because they turned my husband, Doug, into an inspired cook. It started last May, when he and I attended a cooking class at the Viking Cooking School in Greenwood, Mississippi. Doug had never been much of a foodie, but I persuaded him to come along. One of the first dishes our instructor taught us was ** roasted radishes**, and Doug hated radishes. The look on his face said, "I am not eating these." But he toughed it out, following the instructions to roll the radishes in olive oil, salt, and pepper and pop them into the oven. When the radishes came out, they were nutty, salty, and tender, with none of the bite they have when raw. Doug tried one, and you could almost see the lightbulb go off. At that moment, tasting what basic cooking could do to such a simple food, he suddenly understood why people spend time in the kitchen, read cookbooks, and watch TV chefs: the satisfaction of creating the unexpected. Now Doug is interested in spices, is obsessed with roasting root vegetables and perfecting omelettes, and is becoming an authority on exactly how long to cook fish. And it's all because of those roasted radishes. —Donna Long, Weston, Missouri

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