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.

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