Beets me! Or, how I’ve come to terms with the divisive root vegetable

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File photo. File photo.

I want to like beets, I really do. Every fall and spring I seem to read glowing reviews of that gloriously underrated root vegetable in every publication that crosses my path. I read them and think to myself, oh, that looks good, I should do that. I even save the publications, open to the beet pages, in hopes that this time, I will make beets and we will like them. I consider planting them in my garden based on this propaganda.

I have fond memories of a beet, goat cheese, arugula salad that a chef friend made once with a glut of beets we had acquired from our CSA box. I’ve had variations of this salad at various dinner parties and with that food memory in mind, I purchased a bunch of beets at the City Market Saturday morning, determined to realize our love of beets.

I roasted the beets and followed the instructions my chef friend emailed me to the T as to preparing the beets for the salad I could taste in my food memory. The first batch of nuts roasting for the salad burned when my better half came in demanding we go for a family walk to soak in the beauty of the fall sunset on the neighborhood trees immediately and how could I resist? I should have seen that as a bell warning. I also didn’t waver when I reached in the cheese drawer while the second batch of nuts were roasting and realized the goat cheese I’d gotten on special at Whole Foods for the salad was in fact, a goat’s milk BRIE and not the straight up goat cheese one’s taste buds typically associate with the words ‘goat cheese’. I persevered anyway.

I served the salad of mixed local baby greens, tossed with the cubed goat brie, toasted pecans and balsamic vinegar/olive oil dressing as a side to the chicken pot pie I had whipped up from scratch. O.K., I skipped the steps on the recipe that called for butchering my own chicken, instead, pulling out some leftover BBQ chicken from a Labor Day party out of the freezer, pulling the meat off the bones and using those bones to make the broth. But the crust was absolutely from scratch and involved lard a friend made and shared with me.

They nibbled at it politely. While I was complimented on the meal, no one broke out in song for their love of beets. Halfway through my salad, I broke down.

“You know, I’m just not sure I like these.”

The dam had broken. We all came clean.

“They just taste like dirt.”

“I know, right?”

My family considers itself an adventurous foodie family. We will try anything you set in front of us. We will seek out adventures in food. We snub nothing. We’ve had bear and antelope for goodness sakes. But beets? We want to like them, we really do. The hard, cold reality is, we just don’t. The truth is, beets are why we gave up a CSA. They just showed up in the box way too frequently for us to come to terms with the fact that we don’t like them. It’s far easier to drag ourselves to the market downtown every Saturday morning than it is to subscribe to a CSA and find something to do with the beets that seemed to inhabit it so many weeks.

But that’s an entirely different tale.

Becky Calvert lives in Charlottesville with her husband and their daughter. You can follow their adventures on her blog, chickenwireandpaperflowers.blogspot.com.

  • Melanie

    “Taste like dirt.” Word for word what I feel about beets! And yet I know they can be wonderful!

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