Whatever growing up means — getting a job, getting married, saving money, watching your kid graduate from college — I think that some where at the bottom is a large NOT: not knowing. Even more, being comfortable with not knowing. Not needing to be the smartest guy in the room.
So it is with me and beets.
I started from a childhood of encountering beets at other people’s houses, not expecting it, and really not wanting to walk into a wall of seriously troubling aroma. So it took me decades to even consider beets as edible. And then it was more about philosophy than taste: as in, you really should eat more root vegetables. They are so good for you.
That was back in the Whole Foods phase, which succumbed to Natural Foods, followed by Slow Food and Locavoring. All that helped bring me to a post-modern Don’t Knowing, because as much as I vote with my thoughts and dollars for local, sustainable food, local food is not appealing in the winter in the Northeast and I’ve lost my appetite for faith-based Shoulds and Shouldn’ts.
And no winery in Pennsylvania makes a decent Cab and I’m not buying a plane ticket to Hawaii when I want to eat a pineapple.
So with all my food catechisms in shreds around me, I looked again at beets. I began by shredding raw beets into salads, which was not bad. Good sweetness (like good quickness in a running back), a nice textural element, and not smelly.
Next, I threw in beets when I roasted vegetables in the winter. Sitting happily among the squash and yams and asparagus, mushrooms and carrots, the beets were homey.
Now comes a terrific idea in the NYT about dicing and caramelizing that just looks scrumptious.
It’s a roasted beet salad with bitter greens to balance the sweetness, and goat cheese, because everything’s better with goat cheese. I’m happy to say I will make this salad without knowing if I’ll like it.
“When we are able to be here without saying, ‘I certainly agree with this’ or ‘I definitely don’t agree with that,’ but just be here very directly, then we find fundamental richness everywhere,” as Pema Chodron says.