Beet It

The new thing: I ate a dish of beets, a vegetable I’ve always detested.

Here’s how it happened: I hadn’t eaten beets since childhood, when my mother would serve them on white porous dishes that left ugly purple stains on the surface. To me, they tasted like a cross between potatoes and Jell-O. But since beet salad is so popular these days, I decided to give it another try.

I was at my local osteria—the kind of place with hydroponic lettuce and a liberal use of the word “artisan” on the menu. What better place to take the plunge?  Besides, the salad also had goat cheese, which I love. I figured I could just chow down on that if the beets were a fail. When I asked the waitress, “What do you think about the beets?” her face lit up. “It’s my favorite salad here,” she said. “They’re fire-roasted.” I had to assume that was a good thing.

When the dish arrived, I took one look at it and felt like a contestant on “”Survivor” who was forced to eat a bowl of yak innards. There was a mound of beet cubes, three lettuce leaves, and goat cheese that was more sprinkle than slab. My lunch companion tried shaming me into eating it. “It’s just beets. What’s the big deal?” Thirteen year olds can be so, like, clueless. With a sweaty hand, I picked up a fork and stabbed a cube. Chewed, swallowed, waited. And wished I’d stabbed myself.  Nothing had changed. I still hated beets. Fire roasting hadn’t enhanced the flavor or texture. Perky Waitress came by and asked how everything was. “Great,” I lied, then let my lunch date polish off the rest.

Next stop: the frozen yogurt shop down the street, to wash away the bad taste and the memories.