I think it was second grade. They had recently installed a new kitchen/cafeteria at my elementary school so the excitement of hot lunches was still new.
They actually did a pretty good job—those hard-working lunchroom ladies. Some of them were mothers of classmates who were clearly well-fed, so they must have known what they were doing in the kitchen. And they seemed to bring that same degree of care and attention to institutional food that was brought to school by the truckload. (They were particularly good at making yeast rolls.)
So, I pretty much thought they could do no wrong. If my seven-year-old brain recognized a food and knew I didn’t hate it, it was probably going to be OK.
But then, it happened. It was a typical school lunch, but I detected a special treat on the steam table—cranberry sauce. And it wasn’t even Thanksgiving time.
(Here, I must pause, because you may ask why would I think cranberry sauce—which is usually served chilled—was being served from the steam table. I will remind you I was seven.)
I took a big bite with taste buds anticipating the tangy sweetness of one of my holiday favorites. So imagine my confusion, my disorientation as I bit into this bitter, overboiled root VEGETABLE. Something must have snapped. With each thought about this deception I became more disgusted.
And so, my life-long aversion began. To this day, I don’t eat beets—whether they’re in a salad, pickled, in borsht, raw (I hear people actually eat them that way) or dessert (yuk, really?). When it comes to any dish containing them, I say ‘beet it.’
As I get older, I consider that it may be time to rethink this whole thing. Give beets another chance. It may happen…someday. Until then, I’m sticking with cranberry sauce. It’s never let me down.
Now, let’s talk about brussels sprouts.
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