wrote of this often maligned and misunderstood vegetable.
"The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish,
admittedly, is more feverish but the fire of the radish
is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion.
The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of
the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry
finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient
ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all
but fossilized; the dark green sail of the grounded
moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma;
the kite string that once connected the moon to the
Earth, now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for
What on earth was he trying to say, I wonder, but
I like his attitude. And perhaps that's what he was
saying after all. Very few of us are middle of the
road when presented with the offer to have a beet.
It's SURE or UGH.
My theory for those that don't like beets is that
they were force fed some canned or otherwise ruined
beets as children, which of course accounts for so
many of the foods we detest as adults.
I want you to try beets in a way you may not have
yet. Go to one of the juice bars in your area and
ask for a small glass of juiced beets. This nectar
will astonish you with its natural sweetness. You
will think sugar was mixed into it. Or, if you like
to cook, buy fresh, raw beets still in their jackets.
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees and wrap the beets
in aluminum foil. Cook them un-peeled until just tender
when pierced with a sharp knife. Remove the foil and
when they are cool enough to handle, peel them. Try
them with a little salt, pepper and butter or olive
Beets. It's an attitude thing.
grew up in a pretty food savvy family, especially
on my mother's side. Kind of amazing since we are
predominately Scotch-Irish on that end and our countrymen
have a weak résumé as far as cuisine is concerned.
But my clan was different. While many of our Northern
Illinois neighbors were just beginning to contemplate
breaking out the fishing boats in late April, to be
among the first to bring home a bass, we would waiting
for a package to arrive from my Aunt Jane in New York.
It would be the first shad roe of the season.
It's an East Coast thing. Some seafood permeates the
broader cultures of America and some do not. People
in Kansas know about Stone Crabs but Shad Roe, reminiscent
as it is of liver, will never make the mainstream.
That's fine. It leaves more of it for those of us
who love it. I've eaten the fish that brings us her
roe as well. To say the least, it was not a prized
fish by the first settlers of the country. Even though
the Latin name is sapidissima, which means "most delicious"
many felt they would consume it only if you could
get your hands on some salt pork. Ouch!
Aunt Jane sent some of it along with the roe but it
never peaked my interest. The cooking chore for this
was generally divided between my mother and my grandmother.
Both of them being native New Yorkers, it was an act
of civic pride as much as feeding the family. The
roe are encased in a rather delicate membrane that
easily ruptures. To help "set" the roe they would
place the roe sacs in a bowl and pour hot water over
them. Meanwhile they would cook up several rashers
of bacon. The roe were lightly floured and then pan-fried,
(yes we still used the word "fried" with total equanimity
back then) in the bacon drippings and served with
the bacon and lemon wedges on freshly buttered toast.
We'd all raise a glass to Aunt Jane and know that
the bass would come soon enough.