If you’ve spent much time on the food side of the internet in the past few months or so, you might have noticed the emergence of a “new” trend, one so simple that it doesn’t require a recipe but also something you probably never would have thought of on your own. It’s a snack composed of just three ingredients: radish, butter (some say French is best) and salt. It may sound too simple to be true, but give this combo a try, and you may just discover a new favorite.
The sharp peppery notes of the radish are balanced by the gentle creaminess of the butter. As far as I’m concerned, salt is an essential ingredient in just about every dish, but it’s especially important here where it plays an outsized role in the combo by enhancing both of the other flavors. The best way to enjoy this snack is by either cutting a slit into the radish or simply cutting it in half, adding the butter to the middle. Add a sprinkle of salt on top, and it’s ready to go.
This snack is a classic in France, so it’s nothing new. Martha Stewart wrote a recipe for it all the way back in 1998, and it made another appearance in the New York Times Magazine in 2017. But now, it appears that the dish is coming back into style yet again with the help of social media. The recipe made an appearance on the Netflix show Good Girls, and now TikTokers are taking to the app to document their “aesthetic” snack.
Combining radishes, butter and salt may not be the edgiest, newest trend of 2022, but I think that’s a good thing—it’s this snack’s simplicity, ease and unfussiness that’s most appealing. It’s not trying to rebrand itself, like leafy, cruciferous greens were at the height of the kale chip era. It’s far from the age in which we convinced ourselves that a non-food—charcoal—belonged in our smoothies. And it resists the urge to combine two foods that have never belonged together, like the dark days of the ramen burger.
Instead, it’s a common sense, though perhaps not intuitive (for me, at least), combination that perfectly balances different flavors and textures. The snappy wetness of the radish and its intense vegetal flavor is the complete opposite of the luscious texture of the butter and its light, fatty creaminess.
It’s unclear why this snacky recipe has been revived yet again, at least in the U.S. There’s something about the combination of “healthy” radishes and “unhealthy” butter and salt that seems to appeal to snackers aiming to exit the clean eating zeitgeist and transition to a more balanced diet that includes both plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables but also the ingredients in recipes that make them taste so good, like fat and salt.
Perhaps, as the world seemingly returns to normal—or as normal as a post-pandemic world can be, anyway—we still find ourselves hungry for the lockdown days when our lives felt a bit less complicated: The ease of this snack appeals to a sense of slowness and indulgence. It’s not a snack you take on the go; you must lovingly tend to each bite before you eat it.
Then again, maybe I’m overthinking things and the radish-butter-salt combo is just that: a combination of foods that happen to taste good together. Whatever the case may be, this springtime snack is a midday pleasure I’m not giving up anytime soon.