A few weeks ago I suddenly caught Produce Fever, as happens occasionally, and bought about five pounds of vegetables I’d never cooked before. The beets seemed like a great idea at the time—they’re cheap and good for you, and as I’ve mentioned before I do not require my meals to be very interesting.
So I chose six large beets and, not wanting them to go bad, boiled them up all at once. Let’s pause for a moment to reflect that beets are very, very colorful. When you eat cooked ones or cut raw ones, this color is a purpley-red of easily identifiable plant origin. When you boil a huge pot of beets on the stove, though, the whole mess turns the rusty red of fresh blood. It foams. Big chunks of red beet flesh bob to the surface. When you spill drops on the white stovetop—and you will—they dry quickly into the unmistakable signs of a catastrophic nosebleed. I felt like Bluebeard with his boiling bowl of wife chunks.
The cooked beets were indeed blandly delicious, appearances aside, so I set them in a Tupperware vat in the fridge and looked forward to devouring them over the next three or four days.
As it turns out, it takes a lot longer than that to eat a half gallon of beets, for the following reasons:
- They become a lot less exciting over time
- Thanks to my lack of self-control at the farmers’ market, I also had a pound of carrots, four cups of broccoli, two cups of cauliflower, a grapefruit, a sack of green beans, four apples, two bananas, and a cantaloupe to eat within the week before they started to ooze
- I kept thinking about that bowl of blood
All this excess produce fit beautifully into my cooking style, which consists of two methods:
1. Cook some things and mix them together
2. Cook some things and don’t mix them together
In the end I handled the botanical bounty by developing an additional method:
3. Don’t even bother to cook things
Ultimately, I bid farewell to the last half pint of beets and their accompanying mass of purple sludge. The experience taught me a valuable lesson about impulse-buying unfamiliar perishable food, though:
No, never mind. Look, there’s a sale on chard!