No matter how many times I rolled them around with my fork, snickered at them or practiced shooing them away with mental telepathy, they remained on my plate and grew colder as the dinner hour ticked on. The only thing worse in my mind than Brussels Sprouts back then, were cold Brussels Sprouts, yet putting one in my mouth, even hot, took all I could muster.
Now that I’m a mother myself, and enjoy all things culinary, I re-approached the Brussels Sprout delicately and in stages as a way to continue introducing my family to new things. (I’ve been flirting with Aspics, which will probably be the next new adventure, poor things).
First, the subject came up with my husband who couldn’t remember ever having to endure the bitterness of my little round nemesis as a child. So I went to the store and purchased ONE. Just one in the produce bag, because there was no way I was going to deal with any more than that, and cooked it.
I can’t remember what technique I used, my skills were limited back then, but I’m guessing the way I cooked it supported my unfavorable thoughts about them, to win my husband’s vote that indeed those things are awful. Take that Brussels Sprouts, two against you! Except for, he liked them, or more accurately, it.
Then, more recently, I began to read about them in my cookbook collection. Rather than slap the pages past the Brussels Sprouts with a crinkled up nose, I started giving sideways glances to the recipes, then I started really reading the recipes until I finally warmed up to the idea of maybe, possibly trying them again. And then, I did.
This time at the store I purchased more than one, in fact the produce bag was practically full. I didn’t tell them out loud, but I was impressed by how vibrant they were, and how cute and cohesive they seemed in their self-contained packages. I didn’t want to reveal that I was beginning to transform my vote in their favor.
Once I got them home, I began to manipulate them with special care. After washing them, I stared at them for a while, got out my favorite Santoku knife and lobbed off the slimmest piece of stem, without the slightest attitude of revenge. Then, I sliced them in half length-wise and put them on a cookie sheet.
They received a shower of Olive Oil and a sprinkling of Kosher Salt and a couple of pinches of Black Cracked Pepper. I used my hands and tossed them gently, growing ever more fond of their appeal.
Then I roasted them in the oven at 400 degrees for 35 minutes, and fell in Brussels Sprout love. I cook them twice a month, and can hardly keep my hands off them, snatching one from the cookie sheet and popping it in my mouth before putting them in a serving dish, the white one with the fancy edges to show off their uniqueness.
The lesson for me here, is that sometimes it’s important to re-evaluate opinions, and investigate further. Coaxing yourself to begin appreciating that which you’ve kept at arm’s length. It might be a person, a strategy, a religion, a point of view, your aversion to fuzzy slippers or the bitterness of a childhood nemesis. All quite possibly deserve a second look, and while you don’t have to change your opinion, you might begin to handle them with more care.