Top | — A Vegetable Ignoramus Expands Her Repertoire

My Childhood Vegetable Nemesis

(post, Cristin Couzens)

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I haven’t eaten a brussels sprout since 1983. Well, maybe 1985.  Ok, definitely 1989 – the year I went off to college, far away from dinner table stand-offs and my childhood vegetable nemesis. 

Since college, I have done some culinary exploration.  I added sea urchin and gefilte fish to my repertoire.  Neither would make my top ten favorite foods. But both would be listed above brussels sprouts. 

Of course, I married a man who loves brussels sprouts.  Didn’t know this when I married him.  I did know that he didn’t like sea urchin because I ordered it at a sushi restaurant on a date to see what he’d do. “I’ve never wanted to spit something out, but not been able to, more in my life” he admitted, after we were married. 

We now find ourselves living in Portland, Oregon where I caught the farmers’ market bug.  On my first visit to the farmers market downtown, I was blown away by the variety of vegetables that exist. And that was just one particular week in the Pacific Northwest.  I consider myself fairly educated, but found myself a vegetable ignoramus. 

I dragged my husband back the following week, and guess what he spotted.  Yes, brussels sprouts. 

“Ick,” I said.  

“C’mon, you made me eat sea urchin.”

He had me at sea urchin.  I reluctantly perused the brussels sprouts bin, sizing them up, wondering, “could it really be different this time.”  Back at home, I was determined to make the best of it.  I consulted – my go-to resource for foolproof recipes, and selected the ‘Basic Braised Brussels Sprouts’ recipe.  I washed them, removed the outer leaves, cut them in half, and dropped them in a half-cup of salted boiling water, all the while, trying not to give them the evil eye.

Maybe it was that they were fresh from the farm and not the frozen Birdseye box, bitter from being boiled into oblivion (sorry, Mom). Or maybe it was because I had matured enough to take a second look. I ate them, and they were good.

Then, the questions started. How did I get to be 37 years old, and know so little about vegetables, gardening, farming, food sheds and food in general?  I started reading books like: Animal Vegetable Miracle, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Kitchen Literacy, and became passionate, bordering on obsessed.

My husband, while appreciative of my new attention to fresh food, was hopeful my passion might find a purpose, so our conversations could mimic the same variety that our diet was experiencing.  And ever so gently, he introduced me to the world of blogging.

So, the weekly veggie is born.  I am not a vegetarian, vegan or member of any other pro-vegetable group (though I am certainly FOR vegetables).   I am not here to shame you into eating your vegetables.  I am a vegetable novice, and I am not happy about it.  I want to learn more.  I thought there may be others out there, like me.

 What was your childhood vegetable nemesis, and have you faced your fear?