The ugly duckling of the vegetable world has become a swan.
Brussels sprouts were the bane of many childhoods, including my own. After I’d cleaned my plate as we children of Depression-era parents were exhorted to do, there they would sit: four congealing orbs of olive drab, over-cooked and cabbagey smelling. I was left by myself at the table to finish eating them, which I finally did by swallowing them whole as if they were giant vitamin capsules.
Now they are on chic menus everywhere; I order them all the time and eat them with relish (the emotion, not the condiment).
So the question is: Have I changed or have Brussels sprouts changed? Without getting all science-y about it, I would say neither. I think cooks’ understanding of Brussels sprouts has changed. Americans used to take a fairly British approach to green vegetables—cook’em to death and puddle them in butter. But we’ve learned a lot from other cuisines and Brussels sprouts have benefited.
LOCAL BRUSSELS SPROUTS DISHES
Zest, (Influenced by: Indian), Brussels sprouts with slivered almonds, spicy masala almond sauce, $8.00
Caffe Niche, (Influenced by: Classic), Shaved Brussels sprouts seared in butter and a little bit crispy, $6.00
Eva (Influenced by: Mediterranean), Shaved Brussels sprouts seared in butter and a little bit crispy, $6.00
Tin Angel, (Influenced by: Spanish), Brussels sprouts grilled with purple cabbage and sauteed in white wine, topped with a Spanish sherry and Shepherd’s Farm goat cheese, served with toasted baguette, $6.50
Cheddaburger, (Influenced by: American), Fried Brussels sprouts with cheddar cheese and BBQ sauce, $8.00
—Mary Brown Malouf