Beets

“Mom, have you ever had beets?” Oliver asked me one day while I was standing in the kitchen.  I eyed him curiously, as he stood there with a thoughtful look on his face. “Yes, I have” I answered him neutrally. “Did you like them? Because I want to try them!” he said excitedly. I didn’t have the heart to tell him the truth about beets. There’s never a time they don’t taste like dirt.

“Well, the way I had them wasn’t my favorite, but we can try a new recipe” I finally replied to him. It was not often that Oliver, of all the boys, wanted to try some new food, let alone a healthy one. I did not want to discourage him in this new interest. Knowing that one of my friends thought beets were just amazing, I reached out and asked her how she cooked them.

She went on and on about how amazing they were when they were roasted. “I didn’t like them when I had them before” I told her. “Oh, that’s just because they weren’t cooked right! You’ll love them like this” she said, “I promise!”  This was the first time she had ever lied to me. I suspect that deep down, she believed the lie though.

I quickly put together a recipe that was sure to be amazing. Oliver accompanied me to the store where we carefully selected the beets we were going to cook. His excitement was almost palpable. I just knew that Kroger never had anyone under the age of 10 in there so excited about beets!

We came home and got the ingredients together. I carefully followed the recipe and roasted them. They looked interesting. The rich purple hue made them look enticing. Anticipation was high. There was a lot of chatter about how delicious this was going to be. Oliver hovered around while I took them out of the oven. I carefully plated them up for us to eat. We sat down at the table together, ready for adventure.

We lifted our forks to take the first bite simultaneously. I looked at Oliver. He looked at me. Our spirits fell. The aroma of the herbs and spices were deceptive. Once the food hit the taste buds even those carefully selected flavors could not hide the reality. There was no masking this root vegetable with anything else.  “This does not taste like I thought it would” Oliver said, grabbing his cup to wash away the taste, maybe even the memory. I tried another bite. I forced myself to chew it and swallow it down, though it may as well have been paste sliding down to my stomach.

“Are you going to eat anymore of them?” I asked him. “I don’t want anymore” he said. I couldn’t blame him. I didn’t want anymore either.

What I had suspected was true all along. Beets never tasted like anything but dirt.

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