I wanted so much today to write about a light, crunchy spring vegetable.
We had high hopes on Saturday. The day bloomed brightly, the sunlight entering the bedroom before our eyes awoke. For half an hour, we just wandered around the backyard, breathing in the smells of bushes bursting with flowers. Every spring, I notice this new: the earth has a smell again. For months on end, everything lies under damp and grey soil, hiding. When spring begins, everything gives up its smell.
Walking to the farmers’ market, the Chef and I held hands and laughed. He was in a short-sleeve shirt; I was wearing a sleeveless maternity blouse. Everyone looked happy, even the street kids slouching against doorways. The Ave is nearly as scrungy as it was fifteen years ago, all the edges scuffed. But on days like Saturday — the temperature a startling 79* — everything looked beautiful as we walked into the farmers’ market.
Musicians played fiddles and guitars, small clutches of children dancing before them, a man coming forward from the crowd to launch into a harmonica solo. Three times as many people shuffled between stands as a few weeks before. Children ran from mother to vendor, eager for treats. We all convinced ourselves, for a few moments, that spring had passed us by, and we had landed in the middle of summer.
And then we looked at the produce available at the stands.
Rutabagas, red kale, Savoy cabbage, and sunchokes. Oh my.
The sun went behind the clouds.
It makes sense. Heavens, only a few weeks ago, the skies rained down hail and sleet on the befuddled citizens of this city. It’s never winter this late in Seattle. The ground full of spring vegetables must have been confused as well. We simply have to wait.
But oh goodness, for a moment, everything deflated. More winter root vegetables?
And so what choice did I have but to buy more beets?
This derisive passage about beets in Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book (At Table) made me laugh out loud: “It is not an inspiring vegetable, unless you have medieval passion for highly coloured food. With all that purple juice bleeding out at the tiniest opportunity, a cook may reasonably feel that beetroot has taken over the kitchen and is far too bossy a vegetable. I have never heard anyone claim it as their favourite.”
For years, I would have agreed with her. I’ve written about this before, how I hated beets. The acrid tangy smell of canned pickled beets put me off their possibilities for years. Since I went gluten-free, however, I am now a committed convert.
However, other than roasting beets and using them as crackers for goat cheese, or enjoying them in salads, I still haven’t explored them fully. Really, I can’t believe this fact is true and that I’m admitting it: I’ve never even eaten a bowl of borscht.
So let’s help each other out here, folks. It may be spring by the calendar, but it’s not yet spring in the markets. And today, the weather was in the 40s, aggressive raindrops splashing in puddles once again. Like it or not, we’re still going to be eating beets for awhile.
How are you still eating your beets, impassioned?