Monday, February 02, 2009

In Which Simon Discovers The Beetroot, Then Murders And Eats It

I had a delicious salad at The Cheesecake Factory over the weekend which involved arugula, radicchio, goat cheese, roasted asparagus, candied pecans, and beets. It was basically the best thing I've ever eaten in my life. So I decided that since it was a salad, and therefore not that compicated, I would simply reproduce it at home. The way I say that sounds like I'm now going to enumerate the fourteen ways it went horribly wrong and tell you that because of this salad I've lost the use of two limbs and can no longer do arithmetic. But the fact is, my limbs are fine, and I never could do arithmetic anyway. This salad turned out pretty well, and I can tell you, no one is more surprised than me. Please consider this conversation:

Woman at checkout: Beets. Huh. How do you cook beets?
Me: I have no idea.
Woman at checkout: Oh. Okay.

The poor woman continued to try to work out my logic for the rest of the five minutes we spent together; naturally, it was impossible for her to know how many strangers before her have also tried, and failed, in similar situations.

In fact, it turns out you can just boil beets, like basically any vegetable. However, the guidelines for boiling them are disappointingly vague. For example: what is the standard size of a beet? How do I know if my beets are "large"? Will they be done in half an hour? Or will they need 45 minutes? These are the kinds of questions that always trip me up when I'm cooking. Like the other day when I was baking banana bread in the wrong-size pan. How much less time do you cook something when it's covering more area? Is there a formula? Should I lower the temperature? Oh, if only there were some kind of book that would explain all these things to do with cooking OH YES there is and it is a called a COOKBOOK and there are BAJILLIONS of them but they all share one MAJOR FLAW and here it is: they assume a certain amount of competence that not everyone possesses, namely me. Every recipe should have a section called "Plan B" which is the part that tells you what to do if you are one of those people who never has the right size pan, or who doesn't keep pineapple juice around just in case they need a tablespoon of it to make salad dressing, or who couldn't tell a normal beet from a gargantuan beet if the gargantuan beet rolled up and squashed her.

Anyway. I boiled the beets. Maybe a little too much. (How do I know what degree of "easily" a fork should go into them?) And when they were thoroughly annoyed, I put them in a bowl of cold water to cool. And I looked down at them. And I thought, gross. That looks like a bowl of hearts.

Then I went to pick one up, and it was more slippery than I expected, and I dropped it, and it went SPLAT on the counter. And I looked at it. And I thought, that is undoubtedly one of the most off-putting vegetables I have ever seen.

Honestly. It has a tail like a rat.

The other thing about beets is that, obviously, they are red. Do you know what else is red?

Oh my god! What have I done?!

Fortunately, a dismembered beet looks lovely on a salad and tastes delicious.

Well, that's a lie. Beets are not delicious. They are peculiar in a not unpleasant way. Like a lot of people. But you should never put people in a salad. Unless it is Plan B.


Katie said...

OMG. That is hilarious. I made beets this summer. I roasted them in olive oil until they were soft in the middle. They were good, but in the process of cutting them, I hacked into my finger. I can still see the cut. It was not pleasant. I haven't tried them since then.

Ivan said...

watch out, they'll turn your pee purple.

Katie said...

This salad is the best salad in the history of the world.

The end.

Simon said...

Isn't it?! I had always been skeptical of the Cheesecake Factory because it just sounds too yuppie-ish, but they know how to make a salad. The decor is awful, though.