President Barack Obama hasn’t hit 100 days in office, and already there’s been a red scare. He hates beets.
President Barack Obama hasn’t hit 100 days in office, and already there’s been a red scare.
He hates beets.
Just when this humble crimson root was starting to show up in trendy bistros in everything from ravioli with poppy seed butter to romaine and feta cheese salads, Obama gives it a bad rap.
During the presidential campaign, all of the candidates were asked by The Associated Press, “What food do you hate?” Obama replied: “Beets, and I always avoid eating them.”
It was the harshest smackdown of a veggie since George H.W. Bush confessed his hate/hate relationship with broccoli in 1990:
“I do not like broccoli, and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m president of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli. Now look, this is the last statement I’m going to have on broccoli. There are truckloads of broccoli at this very minute descending on Washington. My family is divided. For the broccoli vote out there: Barbara loves broccoli. She has tried to make me eat it. She eats it all the time herself. So she can go out and meet the caravan of broccoli that’s coming in.”
Take that, you Cheez Whiz-loving cruciferous loser of a dipstick.
Obama states his disdain for beets in a dignified manner. Unlike Bush, there’s no whining, no blaming Mommy. He looks the enemy in the eye and pronounces his strategy. It’s easy to imagine him using the same tactic with foreign leaders.
“Ahmadinejad, I will eradicate you.” Simply stated. Forceful.
The beet (sometimes called “garden beet” or, in England, “beetroot”) is a firm, round or oblong root vegetable that has leafy green tops, which are edible and highly nutritious. Although the common beet has a reddish-purple hue, some varieties are white, golden yellow or even rainbow-colored.
Beets are available year-round, though their season runs from June to October. That’s when the youngest, most tender beets are easiest to find.
The sweet taste of beets reflects a high sugar content, making them an important raw material for the production of refined sugar. They have the highest sugar content of all vegetables, yet are low in calories. A cup of cut beets has 75 calories, 3 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein and just a trace of fat.
In addition, they are an excellent source of vitamins B and C, folate, manganese, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus.
When shopping for beets, look for firmness and smooth skin. If the beet greens are attached, they should be crisp and bright. Remove the greens from the beets when you get them home so they don’t leach moisture from the vegetable. But leave about 1 inch attached to prevent color and nutrients from escaping during cooking.
According to “Food Lover’s Companion” by Sharon Tyler Herbst, beets can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Just before cooking, wash them gently. Be careful not to pierce the thin skin, or the color will bleed out. Peel beets after they’re cooked.
Raw beets have a crunchy texture that turns soft and buttery when cooked. Beet leaves have a lively, bitter taste and can be prepared like spinach or Swiss chard.
Perhaps beets have gotten a lowly reputation because of their starring roll in the eastern European soup borscht. The hearty gruel is something more to the liking of Borat than Brangelina.
But upscale restaurant chefs have been cooking more with beets, pairing them with pistachios and pears in salads, serving them thinly sliced with goat cheese and mint vinaigrette, and baking them with red onions and hazelnuts. Raw beets can be grated and used as a colorful garnish on salads and soups.
Obama is a trendy guy. He goes to first-class restaurants. Fresh, healthful foods are a big part of his diet.
He needs to take another look at the unpretentious beet, a vegetable that — like the president himself — is campaigning for a chance to be appreciated by the masses. To succeed, the beet needs Obama’s endorsement.
Mr. President: Please eat some beets. Then consider amending your remarks.
Kathryn Rem can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.