Sometimes I wonder where the real me went.
I mean, the me who always ignored the pickle that came with a sandwich, and who would certainly never engage with a beet(root). The me who didn’t like any sort of mustard and who hated olives.
The olives were first to go, actually, because you can’t spend a year in Spain without coming around to olives. They gradually moved from something I picked off to something I’d eat if they were there to something I actively requested on my pizza.
But the others were much slower in worming their ways into my affections. I started with a tiny, tiny taste of wholegrain mustard in a ham sandwich, and after some number of years I’ll now smear a decent amount of dijon on a hotdog. Maybe my tastebuds have dulled or something, but it doesn’t seem so offensively spicy any more.
I could say that it took moving to America to make a pickle-eater out of me, but my husband has been here longer than I have and he still removes the offending green spears from any plate they appear on (or donates them to me). Our local farmer’s market has a pickle stall, and for the past few weeks I’ve been skulking around their samples and stealing little mouthfuls of deliciously lemony, garlicky crunchy coolness. Last weekend I took the plunge and bought a quart of the blighters. I have to eat them all myself (the hardship), and I am discovering all the things they taste excellent with.
Finally, there were beets. Beetroot, as I had encountered it in my childhood, was a disgusting pink gelatinous article that came in a jar immersed in vinegar and contaminated everything it touched with its bloody-ish entrails. I had no intention of even tasting it.
I stood firm on that front until just a few weeks ago, when the recipes for beet brownies were flying around my Facebook and I found myself at a pot-luck standing in front of a salad with beets in it. They were golden beets, raw, sliced oh so thinly, looking a million miles from those puce blobs of yore. I tried one. It tasted… fine. It had some texture and not much flavour, and was a nice element of a nice salad. It was anticlimactic, to be honest, after all that time and hatred I’d expended on an innocent vegetable.
So there I was at the farmers’ market with my newly acquired tub of pickles. So I picked up some beets too. Just like that. They were the dirty pink sort because they didn’t have the golden ones, but I didn’t even care. I was clearly in some sort of dangerous mood last Sunday, I’m telling you. You wouldn’t have wanted to cross me, with my beets and my pickles.
I polled Facebook and trawled Pinterest and then I roasted my beets whole, wrapped in tinfoil, while I was cooking some sausages to eat pickles with. As advertised, the skins slid off beautifully once they were knife-tender. I have to admit that they looked a bit scary at that point, so I put them in the fridge to deal with today. I thought I might make a chocolate cake.
But it turned out that I had walnuts that were easily toasted (I’m told if I roast them drizzled with honey the entire experience will be transcendent), and some crumbled feta sitting in the fridge, and all I had to do was chop up a beet and mix it with those two things, plus a drizzle of olive oil and some drips of balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. It made a pretty good lunch. For dinner, I added brown rice and did it all over again.
So I suppose you could say I’m a convert. In another 32 years I look forward to hearing my picky eater tell me how beets are actually okay after all. I should probably call my mum.