Certain foods bring up very unhappy childhood memories and certain foods remain a mystery while yet other foods have been tried and rejected as yuck, nasty, ugly, tasteless, yada, yada, yada. So in spite of moving to the “ole home base” (as my ancestors were both English and Welsh), and in spite of England and the United States having many of the same customs, foods, habits, language, etc, there were tons of differences to accept and to which we had to acclimatize and foods were a major category in which we found differences that were unexpected.
I’m still trying to learn the difference between a parsnip, turnip, and a swede (which to me is a person from Sweden, not a root vegetable). I think I’ve gotten good with the language remembering to ask for “mince” and not “hamburger” and a “salad” is probably something with mayonnaise or “salad creme” rather than a good ole bunch of lettuce and tomatoes and such. But some foods that the Brits seem to love remain on the Yuck factor list for me because of early trauma and because of habits.
Liver and onions served when I was a child was a reason to try and fake illness in order to miss the dinner hour. I hate liver and onions. I have learned that my mother was a horrible cook and things that I hated from her kitchen have actually become quite tasty and loved by me when cooked by someone who knows what they are doing. But liver and onions have not made the transition and are still in the Yuck category. Spinach has actually made the leap as I tried it fresh one day and it was good. We used to get it out of a can and the only way to make it palatable to was cover it with something else, boiled egg, vinegar, anything. Should have tried ketchup but some things my dad thought were unacceptable and spinach and ketchup was one of them.
Two vegetables that remain in the Yuck area are beetroot (known in the states as just beets) and brussel sprouts. I remember my mother making us sit at the table for hours (maybe wasn’t that long) until we had finished our canned beets. How wretchedly odd that I once made my own daughter and her best friend sit at my table for hours also to eat their beets because I was sure that it must be good and necessary to eat them once or twice in a lifetime. I don’t think we’ve had them since that episode when she was 5 (she’s now 40!)
Brussel sprouts also remain in the “do not eat” category. It was almost as bad an experience as beets in my childhood household. Luckily, the dog liked them so we were usually able to feed him the spouts under the table when mom was in the kitchen and therefore never had the agony of spending hours sitting at the table staring at the hated vegetables like we did the beets. Of course, no one liked being next to the dog later that evening when the sprouts would play havoc with his digestion and he’d give off wind that was as bad as coming from the sewer. Poor pup!
In England, brussel sprouts seem to be a favorite dish and a festive holiday one with tons of brussel sprouts showing up around Christmas and all kinds of recipes for fixing the little evil things. Didn’t happen in my house, nope, nada, never gonna eat them. I do remember once when my husband and I bought a plant we thought was a broccoli plant. Watching it grow, it was fascinating and amazing and had a large stalk with cute little sprouts growing up and down it. Once we figured out it was brussel sprouts and not broccoli, we let it grow just because it was interesting and then once it finished, the whole thing went into the bin – no harvesting.
So recently, I signed up for a new service that I had a coupon to try. Called Hello Fresh, they deliver weekly or how ever often you chose, and deliver 3 or 5 or 7 meals (we chose 3) and provide every single ingredient (except olive oil and salt and pepper) and the directions to cook with the said ingredients that are provided. We thought we’d give it a try to see what it was like and to also try some new things. We got our first box last week.
I am eagerly opening the box to see what we will be cooking the next 3 nights and I see at the bottom of the box – BRUSSEL SPROUTS!!! OMG!!! The evil, nasty, yucky vegetable has shown up on my first box. (We had tried Abel and Cole vegetable boxes before where they deliver a box of veggies and fruit each week but it was always too much for us to use up before things went bad and there were always things in there that I had no idea how to cook or what to do with them – the swede, parsnip, etc.)
Our time in England has been wonderful, a time of learning new things, trying new things, travel to new places, eating new foods, making new friends, new, new, new, new. So even with brussel sprouts staring at me from the bottom of the box, I decided we would try the recipe and I could always pick out the sprouts and not eat them. We did make that our last meal out of the three though. Gave me time to work up to the idea of actually eating this hated childhood food.
Last night we made the recipe which was a pork loin with the roasted sprouts. We had a bit of butternut squash (another Brit favorite which we’ve learned to eat over here) so I cooked it along with the meal just in case. We sat down to eat with our potatoes, sprouts, pork loin, chorizo, and squash. again here, OMG. the sprouts were tasty – crunchy, nice, roasted, a bit cabbage like which since they are of the cabbage family was not surprising, but OMG, I liked them!!!
Oh Mom, Mom, Mom, MOM! why were you so bad in the kitchen! And why did it take me so long to realize you weren’t a good cook and be willing to try things I hated as a child. Well, now I have to rethink my cooking here. I am going to have to try beetroot (using the proper British name) and find out what a swede is and how to cook it and learn the difference between parsnip and turnip and what to do with them and I’m sure there are some other veggies and things that I should try and learn to eat – well, – at least try them. How very Brit of me! OH, but I think liver and onions will remain on the NO list! cannot ditch all of my childhood anxieties at one time.
And one last thing. Apparently it is really Brussels sprout! Not brussel sprouts. at least that’s what my British dictionary says. gotta learn to speak the lingo too.