So this one was about a Thanksgiving and a particularly bad dish. The thing is, we don’t have Thanksgiving in the UK. We have other things, but we are not particularly thankful for anything in particular, as it happens.
We have Christmas though.
Green is a classic Christmas color, and also the color of the object of this text. Not the dark and rich green of the fir tree, but a bright, sometimes yellowing one. I am sure you can imagine now what it is, but for those who don’t, I shall keep the suspense a bit longer.
Christmas is a strange time of strange things. Most of the population believes we celebrate the birth of Jesus, but we celebrate it with decorations and meals that have nothing to do with the Christian faith. And the manner of celebration varies from one country to the next. What doesn’t vary, is the amount of food and cakes we get to eat! There are chocolates, and mince pies, mantecados if you’re in Spain, papillotes if you’re in France, panetone if you’re in Italy.
It seems that during Christmas, everything is allowed. The Christmas dinner has turkey and ham, stuffing made with bread, bread sauce made with bread too. It has small sausages wrapped in bacon. It has boiled potatoes, or roast potatoes, AND mash. It has carrots and parsnips. Gravy even. But one element disrupt this exemplary extravaganza of excess, the Brussels sprout.
If you are not from here, like me, you probably find it hard to understand why they would include sprouts in their Christmas dinner. Nowhere else in the world have I found somebody who actually likes them. People here only like them because they’re used to them, I guess, but still. It must be a problem for some, though, because TV chefs always try to show “better” ways to cook them.
Personally, the only good way to cook them is not cooking them at all.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I know they are good for you. Well, I guess, because I don’t even want to do the research, in case I feel pressured into eating them after all. No amount of vitamins or fibre can possibly make worth suffering their taste, or their smell!
Both the colour and their nutritious benefits come as a disruption of the traditional Christmas dinner. It’s as if they are attempting to balance out all the complex carbs and fats with some sort of goodness, just so we don’t feel too guilty, at least not until after the Christmas pudding with custard. It’s a bit like the guy who asks for sweetener for his coffee after a five course meal and dessert.
There must be a reason for their incursion into our celebratory plates though. A historical one. Like in Spain, for example. On New Year’s Eve, as the bell tolls 12 times at midnight and announces the new year starting, we eat grapes. Twelve grapes, one per toll, and if we are able to eat them all, we can make a wish (it’s harder than it seems). Well, this is not some exotic custom or whim, it’s just for a few years, Spain produced a lot, but a lot of grapes, and they needed used somehow. I am sure there is some similar explanation for the sprouts. I’ve found a couple of possibilities:
One is that it’s a trick of the market because they couldn’t possibly sell sprouts for any other reason than tradition.
The other, probably closer to the truth, is that they are vegetables that stand the cold well and are hard to frost, and hence would have been readily available, fresh and from the garden, in the dead of winter, back in the time when importing tomatoes from Spain (or wherever they import them from) wasn’t all so easy.
Personally, I don’t care. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve eaten sprouts and I have no intention of changing that, although I leave with some understanding of their Christmas-y presence.