No, that's not a piece of charcoal or a root vegetable I left roasting in the oven while I got lost foraging for mushrooms in a dark forest. It is a black radish. Yes. Disconcertingly natural. I found it at Rainbow Grocery the other day and knew it must come home with me. I haven't been able to find out what makes its skin so inky, but I did learn that the black radish is a more everyday sight in eastern Europe. Here is a first-person account of growing black Spanish radishes.
This is serious business, not for the faint of palate. You have to really like root vegetables to enjoy this, like be the kind of person who slices turnips up raw and shoves the pieces into her mouth with a hearty growl. It's not so much that it's spicy, as that it's just really really radishy. The taste is strong, the flesh is tough, the skin is rough. I'm totally into it. I slivered mine unpeeled (!) into one of the most aggressive salads (tastewise) I have ever made:
black radish, white turnip, wild arugula, kumquats, avocado, fennel, tender carrots, bits of stinky French goat cheese, oil and vinegar dressing
It was delicious. To this vegetable chomper, at least.
Add it to your list of Foods that are Black:
Any more? It's a trend, apparently.
Random memory triggered by this post: As children, one of my brothers and I used to have a joke where we would say, "Black mushroom! Pop!" and slap our palms over our mouths, then laugh uncontrollably. We made it up in the backseat of our parents' Volvo one night on the way home from a Chinese restaurant where we had encountered black mushrooms for the first time. I can't really explain why it was so funny, but it was. Black foods seem to have a slightly unhinging effect on people.