So Lisa Simpson happily declared many, many years ago. The joke being, of course, that no normal child would ever be excited about beets. I completely agreed.
When I myself was a child, I was both picky and willful. Some vegetables were eaten after long, drawn out negotiations (I would eat 23 peas, no more, no less) but some vegetables I would not even consider. Beets fell into the latter category. It wasn't a vegetable my parents ate regularly, so it wasn't much of an issue. The end result being that I ate beets for the first time yesterday.
A quick survey of food writers has revealed what seems to be a unanimous opinion on beets; they must be roasted, not boiled. The recipe we chose was from Eat, Shrink and Be Merry by Janet and Greta Podleski of Loony Spoons fame. As their cookbooks combine two of my Father's favourite things, healthy recipes and terrible puns, Loony Spoons was a big part of my childhood, and the subject of many negotiations. My tastes having matured, I accepted the complimentary copy I was given with some excitement. Having read through it, I decided that I would have bought it for myself, if I'd needed to.
So last night we got out the beets and turned to These Beets Were Made for Walking. Boyfriend wrapped them individually in tin foil and roasted them for an hour while I did hill sprints and took a shower. Then we took them out and let them cool while we roasted shallots in olive oil with fresh thyme. Boyfriend peeled and chopped the beets while I made chicken and broccoli to complete the meal, then we tossed the beets in a bowl with the shallot mixture and some balsamic vinegar.
I don't know exactly what I was expecting for my first beet experience, something mushy and turnip-like, I suppose, but it wasn't what I got. It was firm, with a rush of juice. My first bite quite surprised me. I ate my beets slowly, desperately searching for descriptors, but few were forthcoming. Beets are very different from anything in my (admittedly limited) experience. In the end I can only describe them as adult. Of course it was ridiculous for a child to like them, because beets are a grown-up food. But then, Lisa was always well beyond her years.