I just love these tiny beet Maman harvested on our balcony this autumn! They're just the cutest vegetables I have ever seen! Just adorable! On the photo you can see how small they really were: cm ... They just refused to grow any further. I reckon they wanted to maintain their baby size. In a way I can understand their refusal to become a grown-up beetroot. It's not always fun to be an adult, so I have been told. Even I regularly suffer from nightmares of becoming an adult.
Nowadays, there is an increasing number of vegetables facing the same fear. Accompanying Maman in the supermarket, I have already seen beets, carrots, cauliflower, corn, lettuce, tomatoes that refuse to grow bigger, but did you know that artichokes, avocados, aubergines and courgettes also suffer from what I reckon to be a psychological disease?
In order to understand these poor vegetables, I did some web investigation. Vegetable growers try to cover up up this lack of dimension by saying that "most baby vegetables are fully ripe miniature vegetable cultivated for perfection". Others are immature vegetables picked before fully grown. They are as nutritious as regular-size vegetables and most offer a more tender and delicate taste. There are about 45-50 types currently marketed in the United States."(1)
In the Netherlands most baby vegetables come for South-Africa, Thailand and France (2). These poor creatures are facing an even bigger problem. Just imagine: vegetables enjoying the warm climate, thinking they can just continue sun-bathing for the rest of their lives (as they think they won't be harvested as long as they don't grow up anyway), so they are a quite lazy and easy-going bunch of veggies. As they are lying there comfortably in the sun, all of a sudden they are torn away from their home and family and shipped to a cold climate country such as the Netherlands!!! If they are lucky, they end up in the beautiful city of Amsterdam, where they will be served in a fancy restaurant. However, that is only for the happy few. Most of them will end up in the province where they can only pray for a worthy preparation.
It is a highly underestimated problem one should be aware of when tasting such a sweet little vegetable. With this in mind, Maman wanted to give her harvested beets a truly tasty culinary treatment. She had to buy some adult beets to join the baby ones, otherwise there wouldn't be enough for her recipe.