Beet art: http://flickr.com/photos/anna/2526711921/in/photostream/
"Thank you for dinner."
It's funny how after having mated for life and lived to tell about it for almost two decades....God, so long that we no longer believe in soul mates or even religion (regularly inviting both Jesus and Buddha into our garden for wine and cheese & stuff) but are truly committed -- like Gibbon apes, black vultures & wolves, perhaps even physically fused, pinkie toe-to pinkie toe like anglerfish....well, it's just funny how after all that time, the simplest of compliments seem earth shatteringly wonderful.
"Thank you for dinner."
After so long, the obvious can become invisible. Of course I'll make dinner. Of course you'll eat it. But enjoy it? There is no "of course" there. Remember that you enjoyed it? Verbally state appreciation for your enjoyment of it? Really? You love it? Well hot damn darlin'! Put away the Trader Joe's cab! Let's get out the good pinot and celebrate!
That's why it wasn't their brilliantly phallic root structure or their bold magenta that took my breath away. It wasn't their old world market aura -- stacked up all sunshine and sugar under grey skies at the final farm stand weekend of summer. It wasn't standing barefoot in the kitchen, the big yellow dog at my feet and pulling them from the wrinkled brown paper bag. It wasn't holding their stiff, root-haired lengths under the faucet and scraping away their outer skinned masculine toughness with my peeler either. The joy didn't come from slicing them, feeling the knife ease into them slowly, then too quickly. It didn't come from the reeling surge of energy as the beetblood spurted onto oiled wood, the blade slicing easily through the thick, pulpy core. It wasn't smelling their hot steam as they bubbled on the stovetop, softening just enough under lid to become loosened from their friction. It wasn't massaging them with oil and balsamic and a muscled palm of lemon squirt. It wasn't the freshly ground pepper or those raunchy and rebellious Irish sea salt crystals sprinkled out of cellophane from a continent away. It wasn't the way the dewy chopped herbs picked at sunrise scented me all day long.
No, it wasn't any of that, though all that was all quite pleasant, quite uplifting, slippery and happy dancing. No, it was me holding up the jar at our dockside picnic, the sun glinting through the glass etched, "Ball. Wide Mouth Mason." It was the beetblood curling around the edges of the jar. It was the way your face created its own light as I dipped a spoon into that wide mouth. It was the way your lips pressed up against the tattered edges of the tired old workday and unfolded into an easy smile.
It was the way you said, "Pickled beets!" It was the way you said, "I love pickled beets!" And when you pressed the slick purple slices to your lips, you said, "Really? You made them? Oh, even better. Mmmmm. They're delicious!"
It's really something when life mated black vultures take the time to say thanks, you know? Later, at dinner, you said, "Thank you for dinner." It was nothing special. Just meat. And potatoes. But you licked your lips and thought of me. You colored in the invisible, obvious lines just by speaking it.
Lick your lips again. Please. So I can whet them with my blessed beetblood. In the morning, I'll fill your favorite mug with something that's hot and bitter but good. I'll cut a thick slice off the fragrant loaf of handmade bread from the woman with the red straw hat at the market -- the golden crusted loaf that smells so sweet and rich that I'm certain she sang to it in another language while mixing, kneaded her thick Russian accent right into the dough because I can smell and taste something exotic and longing when I ease buttery toasted bites into my mouth. In the morning, I'll serve up a plate of freedom eggs (those lucky uncaged ones) scrambled, of course, with a dash of Tobasco, a grind of pepper, and three shakes of salt. I'll feast you on a little bowl of baked fruit -- sour apples and Italian plums from the farm orchard where I get our cukes and zukes. Hot morning fruit sweetened with honey so fresh it's still buzzing --blackberry blossom honey, and not forgetting the extra vanilla and double dash of spice.
You'll most likely say, "Thank you for breakfast." I'll most likely say, "You're welcome." I'll say it in a casual, life-mated black vulture kind of way. But my heart will be beeting fast.
Quick Pickled Beets
3-4 beets peeled & sliced to a medium thickness-- (cylinder beets make cute smaller rounds and fit nicely into those wide-mouth masons)
4 T. Olive Oil
2 T. Balsamic Vinegar
1 T. Lemon Juice (as with any fruit destined for squeezing, roll the lemon between thighs to warm the fruit and get the juices flowing).
Salt & pepper to taste
Fresh herbs chopped roughly
Steam the beet slices until just-tender. Place in a non-reactive container with the remaining ingredients. Refrigerate for a day or two, stirring frequently. Relocate to a mason jar for easy transport to a picnic or for storage. Keeps refrigerated for a week or two. Tasty with a sprinkling of fresh feta and pine nuts!