What’s Best?

If you are going to play the “What’s Best” game at your local verdularía you have to be prepared to follow through. If they go to the effort of pointing out that such and such is particularly fresh and luscious or has just come into season, well that’s what you are going to end up with. It would be rude not to. But with ten people round for dinner, beetroot hadn’t crossed my mind.

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But rules are rules, so beetroot it was to be, despite the fact I had never actually cooked them and wasn’t sure how many people liked them. How difficult could it be? The truth is there is nothing easier. Back home I started preparing them, hacking off the skinny roots and the purple shoots at their base. Then I checked how I should cook them on the internet and the first advice was not to hack off the aforementioned items as this would lead to “colour bleed”. Hmm, would anaemic beetroot at least taste the same? Then cooking techniques. Recommended was baking and steaming but they seemed to take an awfully long time. Boiling them was a matter of 30 minutes but would this render them unpalatably pallid? Like so much cooking advice, colour bleed seems to be a myth perpetrated by those who wish cooking to seem complicated. And why the reams of advice on how to stop your hands staining, when sticking them under the tap washes the colour away? Perhaps I do have an unusually impermeable skin though. The beetroot however has a skin that just slips off when cooked, leaving you with this:

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But what to do with it? It’s hardly a salad in itself. Luckily I had some fine goat’s cheese feta that I buy in bulk from a cooperative at the underground food-market. This and some pan toasted cashews and a slightly sweet dressing made with mustard, chinese sweet vinegar, mirim and a big dose of apple vinegar and ya’sta as they say here.

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And I only bother to write about it as it was the unexpected hit of the evening. With six dishes to choose between, this one had people reaching for a second helping the moment they had taken a bite of their cautious initial serving. So as a democratic cook, the people have voted and this stays firmly on the menu. In season of course.

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