One of my daughters is an extreme-selective eater. This isn’t news to anyone who has tried to feed her. She is maxed out on the “high maintenance” food plan. With that said, I have her try all foods, while attempting not to fill her head with preconceived notions.
Just because I gag with some foods, does not mean that my daughters may not enjoy it. For instance, the last time we were eating at a good ol’ cowboy steakhouse, the waiter welcomed us and said, “I’ll be back with your bees.”
Bees..? Oh, no, he didn’t say BEETS?!
(cue flashback music)
It was the summer of 1988, when I took a break from college to sing Italian opera at Busch Gardens theme park outside Williamsburg, Va. Five times a day, six days a week, we belted trilled r’s on a quaint outdoor stage covered with flowers, encased in rustic Italian scenery.
If you have ever experienced a Virginia summer, you are familiar with humidity. I’m not talking about the kind that makes your undergarments travel to strange new lands; but the thick fog of humidity that you can literally see rain down from the sky. Each day I tempted heat stroke, while performing in a Shakespearean dress made of quality upholstery material.
Even though I was singing and dancing in temperatures unfit for most zoo animals, I was unaware I was burning off calories at a brisk pace. The entertainment world is unforgiving in the body image department, so I decided I needed to go on a diet — the newest fad program.
Dolly Parton’s diet was it. I stupidly envisioned that 17-inch waist of hers. If it was good enough for Dolly, then I could handle this abuse for the sake of show business!
Fortunately, my roommates were going to join me. It was going to be a party, but the kind where the host forces you to drink gallons of water and doesn’t offer you food. I was sold!
Each day was mapped out for food consumption. No substitutes were allowed or your metabolism wouldn’t work as well as Ms. Parton’s. Every food was magically paired with others so you could burn calories faster than y’all could shake a stick at.
Grapefruit, dry toast and peanut butter for breakfast. Plain tuna fish and dry toast for lunch. Meat, green beans, beets and vanilla ice cream. Plus, a never-ending supply of Dolly’s famous vegetable soup. I loved vegetable soup!
It wasn’t until I got to the dinner where I was instructed to eat the cabbage-and-water-with-no-seasoning soup, a portion of beets, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream that I panicked.
I could get used to ice cream in a diet. However, the vegetable that never made it to my childhood family table was beets. My mother said they made her physically sick. Since I didn’t want to risk that effect, I claimed I hated them, too.
My final diet meal consisted of a fine soggy cabbage bisque, with a beet milkshake for dessert. And to finish it off, I took it promptly to the toilet. My mother was right and I was done with this diet.
Flash forward to the steakhouse:
When the waiter returned with a humongous bowl of beet orbs — I had prayed they were going to be bees — it took everything in my power not to voice my putrid disgust.
Munchkin No. 2 said, “Mom, what are those?”
They are beets. Would you like one?
“Oh, the smell is going to make me barf,” she announced to the full room.
Still need to work on manners a bit, but in my mind I agreed.
Munchkin No. 2 asked, “Mom, do you like beets?” My husband choked on his drink, but kept quiet, not knowing how I was going to handle it.
Then an epiphany sauntered up to my table. I had never eaten beets by themselves. And who in their right mind eats beet milkshakes?!
Drawing up courage I said, “I haven’t tried them like this before. Let’s taste one together!”
For more than 40 years I was under the assumption I hated beets, since my mother detested them. I never thought I could be genetically a different person than my mom; but I choked down the ice cream/beet concoction in desperation to lose weight.
And what do y’all know? I reckon I kinda liked ‘em. But that is soup is completely out of the question!