Last night, we dined at a local Mediterranean restaurant, feasting on shawarma, falafel, mixed makaly, tabouli, and pita bread. They keep a container of cold beet juice next to the lemonade, so I had two full glasses. They said the secret ingredient was orange juice. My husband won’t touch it because he says it tastes like dirt. Evidently, it’s the geosmin, an organic compound that you can smell in the air after a rain shower. Yes, that earthy odor. I love it.
In the 1920s, Nebraska met the growing need for sugar with beets, as cane sugar thrived only in warmer climates. Pictured above is a western Nebraska beet sugar mill, with two young men in the foreground. The pile weighed in at 22,000 tons. While Minnesota is the top state producer of sugar beets, Nebraska ranks 6th and has been at it for over 100 years. In fact, a town built solely to process the yearly tons of beets was named Melbeta, which means “sweet beet” in German.
Actually, she looks better than I feel. Two weeks of making hot tea, hoping one day I will smell and taste again, losing a pound daily for the first 10 days, coughing, nauseated. Oh, what fun it is to have the China virus inside your body, when you never leave home, and a year has passed since any interaction with friends or family. But no matter!
Fanny Thorne presumably lived through the pandemic 100 years ago, and here we see here at the age of 88 in 1951, in the English village of Preston Candover, which today has fewer residents than the amount of students in most of your graduating classes. Fanny’s husband fought in the Boer War, then passed during WWI, while she lived a life of “deliberate sameness,” threshing wheat, sorting potatoes, or cutting kale for cattle because gross, why would humans eat it? At age 86, the great-grandmother of 19 “stooked” an eight acre field of barley sans help in just 11.5 hours. Combined with her years of devoted service to agriculture, the King of England himself awarded her the ribboned-and-silver British Empire Medal.