I wrote about beets for the Oregonian's FOODday – I'm using past tense because the article was turned the article in last Tuesday, but it won't be published until next Tuesday. I love writing for the Oregonian, even with a shrinking readership, daily newspapers still matter and they cast a wide net – You have to come looking for my blog, with a newspaper, it's either on your doorstep or in a breakroom.
When I started this blog, I was clocking in at about 1200 words with each post. As I got better and understood the medium, I pretty much halved that and generally fall between 400 to 600 words for each topic. With the newspaper, I get 150-200 words. In a way, this forces me to be a better writer, choose my words carefully, focus on one aspect of a subject and avoid adverbs. It is the same argument people make about poetry and twitter.
Beets are fascinating; 200 words isn't enough. Yes, I know people say the that an economy of words same make poetry and to a lesser extent, twitter better, but this isn't true for beets, you just can't cram their complex botany and history into a the equivalent length of a Faulkneresque sentence (or a couple of paragraphs for the rest of us).
Just for openers the veg is known as 'beetroot', yet the issue of what is a root is kind of tricky. Botanically speaking, beets are more of a swollen stem than a true root. Beets are also anomalous because of their sugar content - up to 5% of the root is raw sugar, compared to its starchy counterparts like potato, rutabagas or taro, the beet seems like freakin stevia by comparison.
Here are some random beet facts -
- Beets go back to Roman times, the red beet is actually called the roman beet.
- Beets in England, like the English themselves, tend to be paler.
- Beets were generally tapered until 1587, when the predecessor of the modern beet was discovered.
- The German language puns the name of beetroot (mangoldwurzel) with root in time of need (mangelwurzel) to reflect the fodder like status of the food.
- Chioggia beets, an Italian variety dating to 1840, are stripped
- Woody Guthrie sang B-E-E-T-S not B-E-A-T-S, or so sang John Doe
- The production of sugar beets is directly related to land wars in Europe.
Each of those could be a lengthy blog post or my blurb length newspaper clipping. So what aspect of beets did I right about? I wrote about how the hardest part about eating beets isn't finding or cooking them, it is getting past all the ways they have been served horribly: I wrote about myself.
I'll post the link Tuesday and be back with more posts next week.