Approximately twenty-five years ago, I sat at a table in my great-grandmother’s house, distrustfully eyeing a brussels sprout that had been boiled and then slathered in butter. It was a classic wild-west showdown, with my dad on one side, insisting that I eat that solitary, disgusting mini-brain, and me on the other, insisting that such a thing was never intended to be tasted by anyone.
Fast-forward to modern times… today, to be exact. I sat at the table in our house, sticking by our iron-clad rule that everyone at the table must take at least one taste of each item on his/her plate. (Corollaries to the rule include that the taste must be, at minimum, approximately the size of a dime and must be done where a grown-up can see it. One must chew and swallow the taste. One is allowed to hold one’s nose and take multiple gulps of water following said taste. One is not allowed to whine about the taking of the taste nor about one’s opinion of said taste. One may politely say, “I don’t really care for this” and proceed to make oneself a dinner of yogurt, cheese and crackers.)
Someone on Pinterest had the gall to post a delicious-looking picture of brussels sprouts that had been roasted with butternut squash and bacon and balsamic vinegar. Something inside me clicked, and somehow I decided that, being a mature woman of thirty-mumblety-mumble years, I should give brussels sprouts another chance. This recipe even had a Plan B (for Butternut Squash). Also, I’ve discovered that roasting nearly anything makes it taste MUCH better than boiling it. I’m trying to be healthier. Brussels sprouts were on sale at the commissary this week.
All of these things combined to create the perfect storm whereby I made roasted brussels sprouts and butternut squash for dinner this evening. Except, we aren’t eating bacon because we are being healthy. And I didn’t have balsamic vinegar. So I just seasoned them up with garlic, salt, pepper, ginger and olive oil, like I normally would for butternut squash, and threw them in the oven at a toasty-roasty 425 for awhile.
Twenty-five years ago, I finally ate that stupid brussels sprout. And I hadn’t touched another one since.
Tonight, I was mentally crossing my fingers, pitting my somewhat developed cooking skills against the palate of my younger days, giving myself an internal pep-talk that somehow this recipe would make the difference for my brussels-sprout-hating self.
I’m sorry to say that it didn’t. I tried, though! I promise… I did. I choked down three or four of the little buggers, and then decided that I’m a grown-up, and I don’t have to eat them if I don’t want to.
And then I watched my seven-year-old son gather his courage to take his bite. To his credit, he didn’t whine.
He did, however, ask me to cut a half of a brussels sprout in half, which I most willingly did.
He gripped his fork in one hand and his water cup in the other. He took several deep breaths. Then he changed tactics, setting his cup on the table and gripping his nose between thumb and forefinger. He took another deep breath, staring down the offending vegetable.
Meanwhile, I’m stifling giggles, refusing to make eye contact with Knight. He and I share a history of brussels-sprout-hatred. I’m quickly sipping wine in an effort to keep from losing it completely, which, in retrospect, may not have been the wisest choice…
Finally, with precision and speed, Jet squared his shoulders, shoved the fork in his mouth. Wrinkling his nose, he chewed and swallowed as quickly as humanly possible, and then slurped his water for all he was worth.
I don’t know why we do this to our kids. I guess it’s in the parenting manual… under Maybe They’ll Like It, sandwiched between Because I Said So and It’s Good For You, That’s Why.