Monday, February 18, 2013


Last week I learned some fascinating information about every child’s least favorite food (and what has now become my most favorite) Brussels Sprouts. According to Now I Know, a daily fact email that I highly recommend subscribing to if you’re the type of person who want to have super random cocktail party conversations,  the reason children don’t like sprouts is biological!

Brussels sprouts contain a chemical compound in them which triggers a response from the bitter-detecting taste buds on our tongues. And as Popular Science notes, we lose taste buds as we age, and the bitter taste therefore isn't as strong as we get older. But children take the full brunt of the bitterness. Further, PopSci argues, children's aversion to bitter foods isn't just stubbornness, but perhaps evolutionary -- the overwhelming taste signaling, perhaps, a toxin in the food being eaten. 

And for those grown-ups who still don’t like them, well, they’re just genetically messed up.

As reported by the BBC, a typical person has "25 types of bitter receptors" on their tongues. But some people -- "due to their genetic make-up," as stated by Dr. Lisa Methven, a food and nutritional services professor quoted by the BBC -- have more. Dr. Methven estimates that these people are super-sensitive to bitter foods -- "they experience the bitter tasted up to 60 times higher than someone with an average number of taste buds."  Understandably, these people typically hate Brussels sprouts.

Fortunately for both The Husband and myself, our genetics are normal…at least regarding our bitter receptors.  

As we are attempting to save money, The Husband and I decided not to go out on Valentine’s Day. Well, shockingly it was ME who decided against it. The Husband suggested dinner at Telegraph, they had a lovely three course Valentine’s dinner along with wine pairing for a reasonable price.  However, I decided to save our pennies (in hopes of a dinner at Grace.  On a different note, if you’re interested in a really excellent piece about Curtis Duffy and his new restaurant Grace, I HIGHLY recommend reading this; it’s incredibly moving.

Anyway, we decided to stay in and make something different and delicious.  Since this post is dedicated to Spouts, I’ll save the main course for later.

We decided to go with a Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad I found.  Soaking the red onions was key; it kept the delicious taste, but took away the bite. The dressing was really easy and can be put on anything. We also added walnuts, which added a nice firm crunch. We used our Cuisinart disc instead of a mandolin. However, you can also just use a knife to slice the sprouts (it just takes more time).  

½ Red Onion, Chopped
1 Lemon, juiced
1 TSP Honey
1 TSP Whole Grain Mustard
1 TBS Olive Oil
4 Cups of Brussels Spouts
¾ Cup Good Grated Pecorino Romano
3 TBS Walnuts Chopped

In a bowl of cold water, soak the red onion.

In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, honey, mustard and salt and pepper to taste. Once that is combined slowly (I cannot stress this enough) drizzle the olive oil in while whisking (you may need another set of hands for this one. Whisk until the dressing is emulsified.

Wash the Brussels sprouts, cut off the root and remove the outer leaves. Either using a mandolin, you’re Cuisinart or your knife, shred the spouts until they look like a fine coleslaw.

Drain the onions.

Place the shredded sprouts in a bowl along with the onions and walnuts. Pour the dressing on top and mix until the sprouts are totally covered. Add cheese and mix again. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

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