The Beets

Historically, I have never enjoyed beets. The only positive memory I have associated with the root vegetable is that of the band from Doug, the Nickelodeon cartoon from the 90s. Those Beets, I liked. 

I think the dislike started when I was a very young child. When I was about 4, I made two food related blunders that would spoil certain things for me for many years.

The first, was with tea. My grandmother drank Lipton tea around the clock when I was young. She always put a little milk in it and added a couple of saccharine tablets. One day I went by the kitchen table and saw a mug filled with light beige liquid. I, being a little kid thought to myself, “CHOCOLATE MILK! Must have!” Seriously. So I took a sip and spit it out in disgust. This was not chocolate milk. It was grandma’s gross cold Lipton tea. I have no idea how long it had been sitting on the table, but seriously, I was not at all impressed with this beverage’s attempt to entice me by masquerading as chocolate milk. I didn’t drink tea for years and years after that, still remembering how bad that sip had tasted. I eventually did get over it, to some extent. I love tea….I’m drinking it right now, as a matter of fact. I never add milk though. And I most definitely do not add saccharine tablets.

The second food mistake I made took place at around the same time period. As any kid would, I loved canned cranberry sauce. I loved the taste…the way it came out in one hunk all canned shaped. I loved it all. So I was so excited when on a family outing to Sizzler, I spied some of this amazing stuff on the salad bar. My dad let me go up by myself and pick out what I wanted and I loaded up on those goodies. Then I took a bite. This was not cranberry sauce at all. At. All.

Unlike with the tea, beets and I never made up. I would spend the next 20 years picking these things out of my salads and avoiding them like the plague at any kind of family gathering.

Sorry Beets.

Fool me once, shame you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

There was not going to be a twice.

Well, until this year.

This year I’ve become very interested in retrying foods that I’ve previously disliked. I’ve found that over the years, my tastes in food have changed substantially and that perhaps I should accept that I may now like things that I used to despise. Take for instance, my recent experience with corn. Who would have guessed I would be eating corn on the cob for the first time at 28 years old? Not me! So in this spirit, I was both dismayed and excited to find golden beets in my CSA box last week.

Thanks to the suggestion of reader, lwayne, I decided to try sfgate’s recipe for Golden Beet Soup with Crème Fraiche.

First I roasted the beets for about 30-40 minutes, then removed their peels. Next up were the leeks. I had never cooked with leeks before, but the recipe called for them, so I picked up some at Trader Joe’s on the way home from work. I had no idea that TJ’s sold them prepackaged like this:

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Convenient, I guess!

The recipe calls for 1 cup of thinly sliced leeks. I only had three small beets, so I halved the recipe….except where the leeks were concerned. It was probably overkill, but I actually just chopped up both of them, which was obviously more than 1 cup. I was very concerned about the beety-ness of this recipe, so I wanted to have other flavors coming through. After the leeks were ready, I melted a tablespoon of butter in a small pot and then sautéed the leeks until softened—I follow instructions so well!

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I added some garlic, let it cook up a little, then I quartered the three small beets I had and added them as well as 2 cups of chicken broth to the pot. After it was brought to a boil, I reduced the heat and allowed it to simmer for maybe 15 minutes.

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This is when the fun began. I needed to blend the soup after it was cooked. My blender is essentially a piece of crap, so I decided to use my Magic Bullet. I love the Magic Bullet, but I must admit that some jobs are difficult for it. Luckily, this one was reasonable. The only problem is getting the soup into the cup. I’m clumsy. No hand eye coordination. I was trying desperately to do this without making a mess. I used a ladle and actually got the first batch of soup (I needed to blend it in two batches, as the Magic Bullet is small) in without any issue.

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Look at it, all blended and glorious. The next batch didn’t go as well, unfortunately. I accidentally flicked the ladle across the kitchen nearly knocking the pot with the rest of the food onto the floor. I saved the pot, but I did splatter soup everywhere. Even into the cat’s food dish. Luckily, Cosie wound up being a fan of the soup…

Eventually, however, I got everything cleaned up and the soup completely blended.

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Doesn’t look half bad, does it?

Then the recipe called for salt and pepper to be added. I did so. Then, it was crème fraiche time. I had never used crème fraiche before.

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I probably stirred in about 1/4 of a cup.

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Having tasted the soup prior to adding the crème fraiche, I did like it better after. Though it tasted just fine without the addition,  it was so much more smooth, creamy and rich once it was added. I think you could get away with not adding it if you are watching calories. Or you could try adding yogurt instead.

I’d probably just go big and add the crème fraiche, however, if I were you.

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The verdict?

Edible, but not my favorite. Totally not the recipe’s fault though. I ate the entire serving pictured above and the texture was wonderful. The problem was the smell and the after taste…both beety, and just not very pleasant to me. I think I just really may not like beets! I could definitely see myself making this soup again, however, if I found beets in my CSA box. The soup itself was good, and if you like beets, I think you would love it. I think out of every dish involving beets I have ever tasted, this was the one that I consider to be most acceptable. I mean, hey, I ate it, right?

Is there a food that you just don’t like, no matter how much you try?

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7 Responses to The Beets

  1. elaine! says:

    Aww I love beets! Sauteed in balsamic vinegar, served on sauteed beet greens. 🙂 Especially baby beets. Along with carrots, they’re one of the most sugary vegetables you can eat, which I guess explains why I like them, lol.

    I didn’t eat a huge variety of foods when I was a kid, so there isn’t anything that I don’t like from childhood associations, because there aren’t many childhood associations with me and vegetables. Maybe I’m just not picky because I even was ok with the canned green beans we ate all the time.

    However, I have done the reverse, where I’ve liked a food then OD’ed on it and can’t stand it anymore. That’s what happened with me and freshwater eel sushi, and pico de gallo. I used to like a little bit of each — the first is good on sushi because it’s cooked and has this sweet sauce on it; the latter is tasty with chips, etc. — but then my host mom cooked me, like, a WHOLE EEL (it was my younger host sister’s favorite), and my Kenyan roomate in college cooked this African dish that’s basically like a tub of pico de gallo, and ever since I have a hard time even with small portions of either eel or pico. 😛

    Anyway, that’s what I loved about getting CSA delivery when we lived in delivery range. Tons of veggies I’d never had before that were pretty good! Like kale, chard, fennel and parsnips. How did I live without fennel and parsnips?!

    • girlinchucks says:

      I don’t really like carrots all that much either. I mean, I like them more than beets, but, well, I’d rather have a potato!

      I don’t know about eel….I’ve only tasted it once, and I wasn’t a fan. I know, I know. I sound like I hate every food in this comment, but it isn’t true! I just don’t really do well with seafood. The idea of having someone cook me a whole eel makes me want to run out and eat an entire pot of beets! 😉

      Pico de gallo, however, I can never get enough of. Ever.

      I’ve never had parsnips. I want to have them! Can’t wait to see them in my CSA sometime.

  2. maya says:

    One of the things that irks me is non-meat eaters who are picky about produce, so in my early 20s (and especially in the last 5 years) I’ve made it a BIG point to actively and systematically seek out and get over my ‘dislike’ for various foods (like blueberries, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kimchee, coconut, renkon, etc.).

    Most of the things I thought I didn’t like I had either not eaten at all growing up, or had not had prepared properly; and quite a lot of them have now made it onto my favorites list. I kick myself almost everyday for refusing to eat coconuts for half my life despite growing up with fresh coconuts falling off trees outside my door. >_<

    The ones I can't seem to get over are generally slimy foods. Like yamaimo (japanese mountain potato) and nameko (slimey mushrooms). And I haven't been able to talk myself into trying natto yet. I'm also not quite sold on papaya and okra. Beets I don't really know enough about to say either way. I've had great borsht, but they are pretty rare over here so I can't really determine if I love them or could do without.

    • girlinchucks says:

      I’m not a believer of the idea that one can “get over” a dislike. For instance, what I learned in this recipe was that, nope, I really just don’t like beets! Also, I’ve continued to have coconut throughout my life, but no matter how it is served to me, I’ve never had anything flavored with or made of coconut that didn’t make me wish they had excluded it from the recipe.

      I do support, however, this idea of trying things again and making sure that the dislike really existed in the first place. Like you describe, I think so many of us just say we don’t like things, without really fully examining them.

      Just last week Peter ate lentil soup after swearing up and down and sideways that he detested lentils. He had gone into the baked potato restaurant and asked for the soup of the day…the guy said lentil. Peter stood there unsure of what to do, the guy said, “Here, taste it!” Peter tasted it, realized it was pretty good and ordered a bowl.

      • maya says:

        I think it depends on the source of the dislike. From a biological standpoint, it makes more sense for humans to be able to adapt to different tastes over time so that we never find ourselves in a position where we might starve despite there being an adequate source of food nearby.

        In line with that, I’ve read before that it takes somewhere between 5 and 15 repeated tastings of a new food over a set time period for us to actually adapt to its taste & texture. There are are probably exceptions, including those related to genetics (like the people who think cilantro tastes like soap.. poor souls), but I’d guess most people can adapt to the taste of most foods.

        However, if the dislike is mental, like in the case of someone who doesn’t eat meat because they are grossed out at very the idea of it, then that mental dislike is probably going to overpower other factors, even if they eat enough of it to acquire an actual taste for it in terms of flavor and texture.

        I think the main issue at play in most cases is having a reason and drive to like something. If you don’t have a compelling reason to want to like something, then most people probably wouldn’t go through the trouble of eating it repeatedly just to acquire the taste.

        I have honestly come to like and even really, really love some things I hated for a long time despite repeated tastings, coconut being the most extreme example of that. I absolutely could not stand either the taste or texture until my early 20s.

        Congrats to Peter on the lentil soup!

  3. エリック says:

    No no no, it’s “Fool me once, shame on- shame on you… fool me… well, y’can’t get fooled again!” 😄

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