About fifteen years ago, after moving to Santa Cruz in the Monterey Bay where there were acres upon acres of Brussels sprouts, I decided to surprise my family at the holidays with a ‘new’ vegetable. We never had them when I was growing up and my husband introduced me to them one fall long ago. I thought the small cabbage like vegetable was charming and delicious, with a hint of heat and funky sweetness. In the Monterey Bay, Brussels sprouts were sold at farmer’s markets and mounds of freshly trimmed, tight little ones were stocked at local independent markets. Surely my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews would be as charmed as I.
I bought about 5 pounds of the sprouts and drove them to Southern California. They were destined to be simply boiled and tossed with lots of brown butter to sweeten and enrich them. I envisioned prepping them with my sisters and nieces in my mom’s kitchen, telling jokes, catching up and gossiping. I was going to bring food novelty to our holiday feast.
What happened was surprising to me: My family looked at the bag of sprouts and asked what they were. I proudly announced, “Brussels sprouts! They’re locally grown where I now live! They’re part of many traditional American holiday menus!”