And now? BORSCHT.
I have no interesting stories of beet-related trauma. I don’t believe my lips even touched a beet until June this last year, in Rome of all places. My boyfriend’s brother took us to Trastevere for apéritif and at a little bar with a buffet table full of various salads, breads, and other such appetizer food, I tried some beets that were pickled and in a sort of mayonnaise dressing. They were quite delicious. My boyfriend was particularly taken, though. We returned home on a Saturday, and after fighting sleep long enough to avoid jet lag, we crashed in the early evening and woke up early enough on Sunday to hit the local farmer’s market where, among our first purchases, was a handful of fresh beets.
For weeks I only did two things with the beets: (1) roasted the roots in olive oil, peeled and sliced them, and marinaded them in red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper; and (2) sauteed the beet root tops in olive oil, salt, and pepper (simple is best). I wasn’t as keen on the roasted beets as my boyfriend was, though, so after a while I began trolling for new recipes.
Because I’ve become quite obsessive about food, I talk about it a lot. I talk about it at home. I talk about it at work. And so I of course talked to one of my coworkers about it, and she happened to have studied abroad in St. Petersburg back in her undergraduate days, and so borscht came up and stuck in my head on my “to cook” list.