When I was a little girl, I ate just about everything. Beets were not served at our house, but I secretly think my mom ate them. After all, she ate tomato aspic on the frilly white edge plates at some of the "wear white gloves, a sailor dress, and go to a southern lunch with the ladies" type place. Mom worked full time when I was little so she probably had them at a cafeteria down town. I'm sure that there was an assortment of southern items to try her Greek-Cypriot-Irish-Chesapeake Bay palate. I just know that on some occasions beets had to be served either pickled, or steamed (that thought makes my stomach turn). Anyway, back to my days of "sure, I'll try a beet". What were the southerners thinking? "Oh, a beet will make this salad look sooooo pretty". A beautiful color red disc on a salad looks so bright and cheerful. How can one little circle taste so grassy, dirty, and un-appetizingly earthy? I gave it my best shot and drank a lot of coke to chase the flavor. To be tolerated, as in "oh my gosh, I've got to be polite here and eat this horrid beet" it has to be pickled in wine vinegar, lots of wine vinegar. I still don't like them, but will eat enough so my hostess thinks I do! Bring me a salad with beets and blue cheese and it becomes, as I so fondly call it: "hell on a fork". If you ever serve that to me, on any occasion, please look at other diners when it is served, and make sure your dog is conveniently in the dining room.
Now about cranberries.... What do cranberries have to do with beets? Is there some famous recipe that will combine the two? Not to my knowledge...... So, here is my train of thought. I love cranberries: dried cranberries, fresh cranberries, cranberry juice, and cranberry holiday gelatin that Sandra makes once a year. My mind is starting to drift to those yummy orange cranberry scones and muffins, so I had better get back on track. Jellied cranberry sauce can be purchased in a can. When the cylinder comes out of the can it has the lovely imprint of the can ridges on the side. It jiggles like gelatin, and is fun to slice. One of those childhood things I still enjoy (along with poptarts). It's not a turkey dinner unless the slices of cranberry sauce are jiggling on a plate. Bring on dad's fresh cranberries and oranges, but have the canned nearby. One day, for reasons only known to my mom, she had sliced beets on a plate at the table. We used to eat in the dining room every night as we couldn't all fit in the kitchen. Platters of food would adorn the table where mom, dad, Papa (my Greek Papou (grandfather), Johnny, Jimmy, myself, and a various cousin or neighbor would eat. My childlike mind did not comprehend why we were having cranberry sauce slices since it wasn't a turkey dinner, but I was excited. I didn't notice that it did not jiggle and wiggle on the plate as there was probably too much conversation going on at the time. Low and behold, those were the worst cranberries I had ever had! Beets, so close to the color of cranberry (through a child's eye) that that there should sell warning labels to put on each beet slice! Nothing worse than thinking you are taking a bite of cranberry and have it be the beet.
Then there is beet soup. Who in the world would eat beet soup? No one that I know. Ah, but let's call it another name to make it more elegant. Borscht, good ol' borscht, chunky or smooth, it still is a soup for which I have no desire to eat again. If you have the best borscht recipe EVER, I'd give it a try. Hopefully, there will be enough sour cream, and wine vinegar to go in it if I don't like it initially. Then I would have pink soup. The only soup that should be pink is cold strawberry soup. Now that I could eat.
And finally, why on earth, in mainly rural country stores, are there huge jars of pickled eggs? Do people really purchase them? Do fishermen and hunters have them for breakfast or lunch? Did someone brilliantly think: "what am I going to do with all of these fresh eggs?, I know, I'll pickle them."? I guess to make the eggs pretty, someone got the bright idea to toss in some beets and onions so that we could have yet, more pink food. Beets, like liver, are easy for my palate to detect no matter how hard someone tries to hide them. If you are like me and don't like them, you have no worries when you are invited to dinner at my house. They will not be on the menu.