Readers, we get a weekly fruit and veggie delivery from an organic farm just outside Toronto. This week, we got – among other things – beets. Now, I like beets. I like roasted beets and beet and apple salad. I like golden beet soup. I have a friend who makes a mind-blowing salad with grated beets, walnuts and goat cheese. Heaven!
But I decided to try something different – beet hummus. Sounds gross, but was excellent. All you need: roasted beets (peeled – I do so after they are roasted) and garlic (lots of garlic); a tin of chick peas; the juice of a whole lemon; the zest of a whole lemon; salt and pepper and cumin to taste. Tahini if you have it (I didn’t). Put it all in a food processor and voila. Add a dash of balsamic without mixing it in, put some crushed almonds on top. It is pretty and tasty and healthy.
I don’t blog about food much, but I was so delighted with this. One caveat – change into black clothes. Cooking with beets makes the kitchen look like a crime scene and the chef look like the runaway perp.
One of the things Significant Other and I like to listen to when we drive somewhere is the Diary of Samuel Pepys, read by Kenneth Branagh. It’s captivating, edifying, vivid, funny and sad. Pepys wrote a lot about his meals – mostly mutton, it seems, and tankards of liquor – and so I found this discovery of one of his silver plates quite fascinating. Coincidentally, Jeff Jacoby wrote a column just last week about anti-Semitism, and opened it by quoting Pepys’s observations on his 1663 visit to a London synagogue.
Apparently, there is a grave threat to the banana crop. This makes me anxious, as I love bananas. I love them so much I wrote a poem about them.
So today is National Poetry Day. Last year I posted a poem I wrote for more or less the same occasion – you can read it here. And for today I am posting this – inspired by a conversation Significant Other and I had during our recent trip to Italy. Are we not deep? Shall I send it to the New Yorker?
Ode to the Banana
You truly are the King of Fruit and so inspired
Your merry yellow countenance is nature’s perfect wrapping, no polluting-our-seas plastic required
I carry you without a Kleenex and my fingers don’t feel sticky and icky
Like when I hold grapes
And when I carry you about, I feel very much at one with our cousin apes.
When peeled you still aren’t a sticky and icky kind of loot
At least as much as, say, your brothers in fruitdom, the orange, the apple and the grapefruit
Your potassium picks me up after illness and your sugar picks me up when I’m lackadaisical
You are inexpensive too
And ubiquitous, available in France and probably Timbuktu and Kalamazoo.
Oh, they say you are gross when you get all mushy
With black spots and inconsistency and feeling all squishy
But you can be the proud foundation of a smoothie
Or better yet, the reason to make that comfort food known as banana bread
From a recipe used to often I no longer need to read it, it is stuck in my head.
Oh, they say people slip and fall on you – is this what Sir Joseph Paxton wanted?
Your peels discarded on sidewalks, streets and paths leave some daunted
But if it wasn’t beneath Ethel Merman, Buster Keaton and Woody Allen
Then why treat it as some sort of evil plan
Better yet, you lazy souls, take those peels and put them in a garbage can.
Oh, they besmirch your name: Cavendish, Chiquita (top banana in the world today!) or Dole
By using it as a synonym for crazy, nutty and out-of-control
When their own names would better do the trick
How about the name of an actual nut to replace such words?
For “macadamia” and “pistachio” are two of the craziest-sounding words I have ever heard.
Cherries have pits, so much effort required to eat them
To open a durian you need a team of engineers on standby, and peaches have fur, biting into them
the gourmet equivalent of nails down a blackboard
You are also easy to draw. What is your flaw? Your only one as far as I can see
Is that you hide the deadly black tarantula, as sang Harry Belafonte.
But even scary, hairy spiders need a place to sleep
And dear banana, you give them that, a place to sleep deeply
And you give us B6, C, folate, manganese, on top of the aforementioned
So please dear banana, take a bow
And I mean right now.