I must be getting older; I’m starting to eat my vegetables. – Nirvana
With all due respect to the late Kurt Cobain, I doubt the sincerity of that statement. At least when it comes to one vegetable in question: the lowly Brussels sprout.
Up until yesterday, I had never tried one. “I hate them,” I’d say whenever the topic came up, which admittedly was pretty rare (how often does one walk around discussing Brussels sprouts, after all?). But this wasn’t a fair statement, I realized. I pride myself on having an open mind and a willingness to always try new things. I couldn’t rightly declare a loathing for a vegetable I’d never tried. So, I decided to change that last night.
Actually, “decided” implies I made a concious decision to eat a Brussels sprout. That is not the case. Rather, Heather was cooking dinner, and grabbed a box of Green Giant frozen Brussels sprouts out of the freezer. I immediately wrinkled my nose in disgust.
“Eww,” I said. “I hate those.”
“Err…I guess technically the answer is no. But in theory, most definitely.”
“I love them,” Heather’s daughter, Maddi, said. This coming from a kid who doesn’t like mashed potatoes or spaghetti. Two of the most delicious foods of all time! Note to self: would a dish incorporating both work? Say, spaghetti served atop a mound of mashed potatoes? You may be onto something here, ol’ chap.
Not wishing to be upstaged by a ten-year-old, I decided the time had come to step up to the (dinner) plate and try my first Brussels sprout. Four minutes and thirty seconds later, they emerged from the microwave a steaming, soggy, drenched-in-butter-sauce feast for the eyes. If you think I’m being sarcastic, by the way, you couldn’t be more correct. Let’s face it, they resemble wrinkled testicles. I wonder how many people I just turned off with that accurately honest description?
Nevertheless, I wasn’t about to back out now. A promise is a promise (there had been one made, somewhat foolishly, right before the tray went into the microwave), and I was determined to remain as open-minded as possible. After all, I told myself as I stabbed the B.S. (can I call it that for short?) with a fork, they were swimming in butter. How bad could they be? People say anything made with bacon is good. Butter, in my opinion, has similar magical properties. As I lifted it to my mouth, ignoring the slight trembling in my hand (early stage Parkinson’s, I reassured myself, because to admit fear isn’t very manly), I actually convinced myself that it was going to taste delicous. Better even than spaghetti or mashed potatoes. Soft, warm, and buttery. What could possibly go wrong?
Then my damn taste buds stepped in and decided to riot. They were definitely not pleased. “What is this garbage you’re trying to pass off as something edible?!” they demanded, while I chewed through a watery, pungent miniature cabbage. Every bite was a Herculean effort. I gagged, and for a few seconds, eyed the back yard longingly. I actually thought of dashing outside and spitting the offending mass out, but pride, etiquette (and that stupid promise) kept me going. On and on I soldiered, wondering why something so small was taking so excrutiatingly long to swallow. Seriously, paint dries faster than the time it took to eat that single golf-ball sized morsel of Brassica oleracea (thank you, Wikipedia! But even a fancy Latin name isn’t enough to salvage the experience for me).
My eyes watered. My face contorted into a multitude of expressions, all of which conveyed extreme displeasure. But, in the end, I got it down – and kept it down. Go, me! I rock!
And now, the next time the conversation turns to Brussels sprouts (ha), I will be able to say, with all sincerity, that I find them vile and disgusting and the very thought turns my stomach. Not only do they taste bad, but they didn’t even originate in Belgium (their very name is false advertising!). We can thank the French for introducing them to our shores around the year 1800. What do they know, anyway? They think Jerry Lewis is a comic genius. And they sold us Louisiana dirt cheap.
Or…wait a second…maybe they’re geniuses. Brussels sprouts were probably their revenge for getting screwed over so badly. They unleashed them on this unsuspecting continent and then went laughing all the way to the baguette joint.
Very clever, guys. Very clever indeed…