Sunday, October 21, 2007

What does it mean to be a man?

I'm not talking about puberty or bar mitzvahs. I'm talking about when your mindset changes from the carefree thoughts of a boy to the responsibility-laden reflections of a man. It's hard to pinpoint when exactly that change takes place. For some people that day is when they first get a full-time job. For others, it's when they accept the financial burden of home ownership. For many, it's when they become a father.

For me, I think that day was a few years ago when I decided I would start eating brussels* sprouts again.

I've never been a very picky eater, but ever since I was a kid, brussel sprouts have been on my Yucky list. I happily avoided them for decades, but then one day in my early thirties, I decided it was time to try them again. It wasn't that I though they had suddenly become delicious behind my back, but it didn't seem very grown-up to continue childhood eating patterns.

I ate a few that day and found that although they weren't as bad as I recalled, they were still fairly unpleasant. Although they get props for having a unique taste, that taste is a little bitter and not very enjoyable. Regardless, I recognized that they were good for me, so I've added them to our regular shopping list and they've become a couple-times-a-month staple on our dinner table. It was the manly thing to do.

Then, last year, we went out to dinner at a highly touted restaurant called Firefly. I deliberately ordered the roasted brussels sprouts appetizer just to see if this well regarded kitchen could turn even unlikable brussels sprouts into something tasty. I was amazed to find that they had succeeded. They were clearly brussels sprouts magicians.

Last month Hank tried her hand at roasting brussels sprouts (instead of the usual steaming we do). I was delighted to find that she had suddenly become a brussels sprouts magician.

The truth soon dawned on me. Brussels sprouts are DELICIOUS if you roast them. Somehow, the roasting (lightly coated in olive oil, with a dash of salt and fresh ground pepper) takes away the evil bitterness and replaces it with an unexpected sweetness. I guess they get carmelized or some such kitchen nonsense.

They're now my favorite vegetable. I steal some off the rack when they come out of the oven, and I pop an extra few at the end of my dinner. It would be a minor stretch to say that they're like candy, but they're pretty damn good. I look forward to eating them. Yummy!

It's like I'm a boy all over again.


*Holy cow, I just learned that they're called brusselS sprouts and not brussel sprouts. Thanks, Google, but crikey, when did that happen?

14 comments:

carey said...

Brussels sprouts are my A-#1 most hated vegetable of all time; I always tell tell the boys how lucky they are that I don't make them. And even though you make them sound delicious...I still don't think I could bring myself to try a vegetable I've spent 40 decades avoiding.

newnorth said...

I couldn't stop laughing when I read the line about when you became a man...after all those more traditional ones. Too funny :)

Mike said...

Hey Carey, when you're ready to become a woman, email me for the recipe.

Newnorth, the essence of my humor is usually misdirection.

yajeev said...

Carey, you're 400 years old?

Mike said...

I swear to god she doesn't look a day over 350.

carey said...

Why, yes. Yes I am. You may not remember, and I try not to brag about it, but back in 1779 I was instrumental in implementing a citizens' revolt against making brussels sprouts the national vegetable.

Mike said...

Carey, things have changed in the last few centuries. Get with the times.

Tasty said...

I've always hated them, myself. Then, I met the chef (my dude). He roasts them, and they are divine. But what really makes them amazing is a little balsamic vinegar in the pan at the last minute. YUM.

Mike said...

Tasty, I'm not so sure anything could make them better, but I'll take your suggestion under advisement.

Neel Mehta said...

What does it mean to be a man?

For some reason, I thought this was going to be a post about Antonio Banderas SPIRIT Cologne.

By comparison, the brussels sprouts are almost welcome.

patsy said...

is the fires in ca. near you. I hope not.

Mike said...

Neel, there is no suitable retort to the Antonio Banderas cologne post. I am without retort. Retortless.

Patsy, thankfully I am quite far away from the fires (hundreds of miles). Thanks for checking in though!

Ms.PhD said...

Fantastic! I will have to try this. I can't remember if I ever had a brussels sprout. Not since I've been able to talk. My first word was "No".

Mike said...

Ms. PhD, NO!

You cannot go from never having had brussels sprouts to having roasted brussels sprouts. First, you have to suffer through the lesser preparations, preferably for decades. Then and only then can you appreciate the miracle that is the roasting of the brussels sprouts. I beg of thee.