Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why I am scared to eat Brussels sprouts

Last week, we did a segment on the morning show about things we have never done that might surprise people. To get the ball rolling and inspire listeners to feel safe to call with their confessions, I admitted that, at the age of 35, I have never tried Brussels sprouts. Does that surprise you?

Well, it surprised our listeners, too, and over the course of the past week, I have been handed recipes that I am "guaranteed" to love during meetings, emailed recipes for roasted Brussels sprouts by the dozen, and today, I was coached by a professional chef (and the director of a culinary school) on how I could cook them in a way that wouldn't be too scary.

I've had to think a lot about why I haven't ever stepped up to the culinary plate and tried them. Here's the history: my parents HATED Brussels sprouts. They are one of the few foods that were never served in our house. (I wish they had the same stance on lima beans, but I digress...) My dad didn't like them, at all, and my mom had basically OD'd on them growing up - so they vowed never to force them on their kids and never even offered them to us. Alright, maybe it wasn't a vow, so much, as a decision - but at any rate, we never had them.

Since I never had them as a kid, and knew of my parents' aversion towards them, I was never very motivated to try them on my own. We also never had asparagus or sushi growing up, but luckily, I had friends that encouraged me to try to those foods, and coached me on how to eat them - and it was love at first bite on both counts. One might think after those positive experiences that I would chomping at the bit to chow down on some sprouts.

Nope. I am scared.

There. I said it. I am scared to eat Brussels sprouts.

I have jumped out of planes. I have spoken in front of thousands of people. I have sung the National Anthem at sporting events. I've gone on blind dates. And yet - I am sitting here, scared to try the Brussels sprouts I have roasting in the oven RIGHT THIS SECOND. Aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

I am scared that they will be so bad that I will never recover from eating them. With 35 years of time to think of how awful they will be, I am certain that they will taste so awful that I will be haunted for years by the ghost of the sprouts.

While that may seem ridiculous to you, it doesn't to me. That's usually how I feel about new things: that they will certainly be so awful that I will be haunted by the terrible experience for years and years to come. I worry that everyone will find out how awfully things went with ______, and will hate me forever for not liking it/failing. (And before you worry too much - I am not paralyzed by this...I usually can talk myself through it and try it anyway...but these are the thoughts that lead up to it.)

What I know to be true is my greatest fears almost never materialize - and when it comes to the BIG stuff like jumping out of a plane, I can usually go for it. Yet, for 35 years, I managed to avoid the sprouts.

Today, that ends. I am going for it. I will no longer fear this benign vegetable. I am roasting it in the oven, right now, and will try it. I have promised that I will report back on that tomorrow morning on our show, so my hand is kind of forced to do so. Nonetheless, today marks the end of an era in my little world, and I am pretty psyched about it.

Today, Brussels sprouts...tomorrow, who knows??

What have you been avoiding trying out of fear? Need some encouragment?

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