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Accepting Beets

The Diary of an Eight-Year-Old Who Became a Food Critic.

Fresh pasta awaits you at Paulie’s.
Katharine Shilcutt
Fresh pasta awaits you at Paulie’s.

The Internet was abuzz recently over the video that a 32-year-old man made in which he "interviewed" his 12-year-old self. It was cute, clever and perfectly edited to make it seem as if the 32-year-old Jeremiah McDonald was actually conversing with the 12-year-old Jeremiah, who was mostly concerned with whether or not his adult self was still drawing cartoons, still had Star Wars action figures and still watched Doctor Who.

I'm the same age as Jeremiah McDonald, and both the behavior and the questions of his 12-year-old self reminded me of myself at that same age. I would have quizzed grown-up me on whether or not I had a car, if I still played Nintendo and what color my room was painted — serious issues for a 12-year-old kid. The video seemed to have the same effect on millions of other viewers. What is it like to be confronted with the ideas and ideals you carried around 20 years ago as a child?

Quite by coincidence, my mother found my old diary while rummaging around in a closet this weekend. It's a diary she gave me when I turned eight years old, a Ramona Quimby-brand diary (a literary character with whom I was obsessed as a child, back when kids found their idols in books instead of on the Disney Channel) that contained hundreds of prompts to get kids writing.

The questions were designed to make kids think and weren't pithy throwaways like "What's your favorite television show?" They ranged from prompts such as "I was kind to a friend when..." and "I felt grown-up when I read this book..." to "I should not have done this..." and "This is how I felt afterward..."

One of the sections of the diary prompted kids to talk about food. Fittingly, it remains one of the few sections I actually filled out (between complaining bitterly about the favoritism displayed by the day-care van driver and exhorting that "Meghan is no longer my best friend!" over some perceived and long-forgotten slight).

Confronted with what the eight-year-old me liked and disliked, I'm kind of surprised I became a food critic at all.

It's a tribute to the drastic ways in which our palates (and perceptions of food) change over time, to say the least: My favorite food as an adult and the sole foodstuff I have listed in my Twitter bio is beets. I like radishes so much that I eat them nearly naked, save for a little butter and salt. And I incorporate peppers of all kinds, oddly enough, into almost every meal I cook.

I still love spinach, although Italian food has been dethroned by an array of Asian cuisines: Korean, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese and Indian. I rarely eat peanut butter, only because it rarely occurs to me to do so, and Reese's? My lack of a sweet tooth as an adult has rendered that one moot, too.

I still love buttered rice, though. Who doesn't?

Rocky Road has been supplanted by mint chocolate chip (if and when I actually eat ice cream), orange soda has been supplanted by black coffee and I eat tongue more frequently than I eat Italian food. To be fair, however, it seems as though I cribbed off Ramona Quimby's own dislike of tongue for that one; I can't recall ever being presented with lengua as a child.

Still, my eight-year-old self displayed at least a little prescience when I said that I'd love to have a meal where I could eat all the rice I wanted. All of the Asian cuisines I adore so much as an adult feature — what else? — all the rice I could ever want. By Katharine Shilcutt

Restaurant News

Openings & Closings

Guess what women won't care about? Food.

As we mentioned a few weeks back, Roots Bistro has been planning to open up a little sister spot next door. That spot — a juice bar — is now open. Roots Juice is a fast-casual juice bar as well as a cafe, offering a small vegan menu that partner Rebecca O'Brien calls "the crunchy little sister" to the bistro next door.

That menu includes items such as vegan zucchini muffins; a selection of gluten-free and grain-free pastries; granola with coconut yogurt and seasonal fruit; raw "squashta" with shredded carrot, cilantro, tomato, pumpkin seeds and almond sauce; cold soba salad with cashew, sweet corn, cucumber and Korean BBQ dressing; fresh vegetable nori rolls; chevre, avocado and sprout sandwiches on house-made foccacia; plus chocolate fig mousse.

As for the juices, look for selections like the Alchemy with carrot and ginger; Green Age Dreams with spinach, celery, parsley, cilantro, lime, fennel and cucumber; Beet It with carrot, jalapeño, cucumber, celery, spinach and beet; Kale Take with kale, cucumber, spinach, pear, apple and lime; and Elixir #1 with orange, apple, ginger and cilantro. There are even smoothies available, such as the Up with peach, strawberry, orange, ginger, agave and maca; Kombu-cha-cha with banana, ginger, vanilla, cherry and kombucha; and OMGoji with Goji berry, strawberry, agave, coconut oil, vanilla and almond butter.

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