Sunday, March 16, 2008


My mother is on a new health food kick. She makes smoothies all the time, now that she has an extremely capable blender. Today she put beets in with the strawberries, grapes, apple, etc. I was surprised that the distinctive beet flavor shone through all the others. Most fruit tastes are some combination of sweet and tart, but beets taste of earth, minerals. Their flavor recalls to me the darkness of damp clay-infused dirt--its solidity, the heft of it on the shovel, the way it grows slippery between your fingers when you clench a fistful of it. That strength suffuses beets. You can see it in the intensity of their color, that blood-bright magenta that people dye yogurt and fruit-juice with.

When I pulled the half-gallon of soy-milk out of the refrigerator during breakfast, my fingers slid a little on the carton's sides. I assumed there was a greasy patch from someone's buttery fingers, but looking at my fingers after I set the carton down, I saw a flash of red-purple. Beet juice. Sure enough, like the marks of bleeding fingers, patches of beet juice glowed on the soy-milk carton. It spreads everywhere. In fact, the previous evening, I had looked down to see a spattering of bright red on the kitchen floor. I knew it was beet juice (my mother having just removed some beets from the oven). Still, the impression of a puddle of blood was inescapable. There's just something about that color...

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