History of Beetroot
Radishes have been cultivated for thousands of years, originating in China before being grown in Ancient Egypt and Greece. The name, radish comes from the Latin word ‘radix’, meaning root and not surprisingly, the radish is a member of the mustard family, accounting for its sometimes hot peppery taste.
Traditionally radishes were eaten to stimulate the appetite and to prepare the palate for food, or as an accompaniment to drinks. They were usually served with salt for dipping, with or without brown bread and butter which is still one of the best ways to enjoy them.
Classical enjoyment of the radish
Radishes are grown and consumed throughout the world and have been eaten in Japan, China and parts of Europe. Early records also show the radish was enjoyed in Greece and ancient Egypt where people were paid in radishes while working on the construction of the great Pyramids, but were not cultivated in Britain until the sixteenth century. In Ancient Greece the radish was so revered that gold replicas were made of the vegetable and offered to the god Apollo. The Greeks served their radishes with honey and vinegar.
Arrival in England
The radish found its way to England in the mid 16th century and into Shakespeare’s Henry IV (Like a man made after supper of a cheese-paring: when a' was naked, he was, for all the world, like a forked radish, with a head fantastically carved upon it with a knife – King Henry IV. Part II. Act iii. Sc. 2.) and records of Europeans eating radishes show that in France they would be served at the beginning of a meal, to clean the palate.