Food and Culture at Raven
Root of Constancy
by Karen Ackland
Cheryl cooks beets for men who are not her husband.
She'd make them for her husband, a wiry man with a trim mustache, but he
doesn't like them.
"I never ate beets growing up," he says, as if that explains everything.
"But you've changed," Cheryl insists.
"Not about beets," he replies.
Cheryl wants to please her husband, but she has a hard time keeping her
hands off beets. After they're cooked and she slips off their skins, beets
reveal a vibrancy only hinted at before. On occasion she has experimented
with golden and candy-striped beets, but she considers these novelties. What
she likes about beets is their color, and the color should be red.
Her husband complains that beets stain the kitchen sink. They take up room
in the refrigerator that could be used by sausages or luncheon meats. Cheryl
tells him beets are rich in potassium but, although he is a man who likes
facts, he isn't swayed by hers.
His stubbornness rankles her. She doesn't see why he won't change and plans
dinner parties where other men can appreciate her beets.
"Beets," Alberto exclaims over a crystal bowl containing a salad of beets
"Beets," Steve says when she brings balsamic beets to the table, arranged on
a blue and white ceramic platter.
"Beeping beets," cries Brian, who likes to play with his food, when she
serves a first course of grated beets and carrots in a ginger vinaigrette.
To these meals her husband contributes grilled sausages, pork tenderloin,
and chicken satay. He doesn't expect anyone to say much about the food he
makes, and they don't.
Instead they talk about other beets they've enjoyed-a chilled soup, a rich
risotto. Cheryl hopes her husband will eventually join these conversations,
but although he'll sit at the same table with beets, even putting one or two
on his plate, he refuses to admire their color.
Cheryl persists in her beet-making. She plans to make beets for a new
friend, Bill, but at the last minute the dinner is cancelled. Her husband
catches her in the kitchen cooking borscht. His strategies to avoid
vegetables have become predictable and transparent.
"Are those beets still good?" he asks.
"Is there any sausage that goes in that?"
That evening at dinner, Cheryl stirs yogurt into her borscht and watches the
edges turn a delicate pink. Everything else in the bowl is a satisfying,
rich red. Forgetting herself, she sighs with pleasure.
Glancing over, Cheryl's husband suggests, "I guess I've been prejudiced
"Have you changed?" Cheryl teases.
"Not about you," he replies.