I hated vegetables when I was young. This included beans of all kinds, spinach, carrots, radishes, squash, peppers, tomatoes, and lettuce. Potatoes I accepted, because they didn’t look like vegetables; corn I also accepted, because it was sweet, and corn-on-the-cob was especially interesting (most especially when it was dripping with butter and covered with salt).

Some studies show that children are picky eaters because nature makes them that way; if we were living in a state of nature, foraging for our food, my pickiness might have saved my life many times over.

Also, pickiness is heritable from a parent. This makes sense to me: my mother was one of the pickiest eaters I’ve ever known, even as an adult. Her favorite meal was a hamburger and French fries at the local Burgerville (hold the ketchup).

But I’ve mostly gotten over my pickiness, as I’ve gotten older. I like trying new strange foods.

But I have not yet made friends completely with beets.

Beets are a root crop, and very healthy for you. Also, you can eat the greens on top.

But I am still not delighted with them.

When you prepare them with a little sugar and vinegar – that is, as “Harvard beets” – they’re almost nice. (The more vinegar and the sweeter the beets, the better.)

When prepared naturally, however, they have a very – um – natural flavor. That is to say, they taste like dirt.

Apollonia told me a story recently, about taking her sons to a local historical attraction, where people dress up in period garb and pretend that it’s 1790. A woman came up to them with a big bowl of beets. “Beets are wonderful,” the woman said. “You can pickle them, or eat them raw. You can eat them in salads. You can use them to dye cloth. Or –“

“Or,” Apollonia’s son said, “you can throw them out the window.”

This is an excellent suggestion. Next time I see beets on the plate, I will try throwing them out the window, and see what happens.

About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

6 Responses to Beets

  1. Still waiting for a report on the CAT scan!

    • Not good, I’m afraid. The doctor’s visit was only yesterday morning, but already I’m booked for two more doctors and one more test. And the diagnosis was exactly the one I didn’t want to hear – it was worse, in fact.

      It’s the family curse: both my parents died of cancer, as did two of my three siblings and (already) one of my nieces.

      But I do NOT intend to die of this. I decided today that this is just something I’ll have to get through.

      Naturally emotions around here are running riot, between me and Partner. We haven’t really worked through it yet. But I think once I fall into a routine of chemo and radiation, things will improve (although I’ll probably be sick as a dog, and all my hair will fall out).

      I’ll still be here. Thanks for your very kind inquiry, by the way. I love your blog: I love the gardens you show us, and I love your devotion to what you’re doing. I hope to read your blog for a long time to come. And maybe I’ll be lucky enough to visit Ilwaco again and meet you in person, and we can share some REALLY decent seafood.

      • I am sorry to hear that. Was hoping it would be anything but. I have friends who have battled and won with stage three cancers and I believe it can be beaten. Will be thinking of you daily and looking forward to taking you and Partner to dinner at the Depot Restaurant some day.

      • I’m hoping for a happy resolution. I’m not looking forward to the treatment, though. And I hope we can take you up on your invitation to the Depot in the very near future. (I haven’t been to the Northwest since 2008, so we’re long overdue.)

      • Please do. I hope the treatment is relatively brief and very successful.

      • Thanks very much. I hope so too.

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