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The Case for Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts, 2013

Douglas Campbell

Acrylic on canvas, 18” x 24”

Thanksgiving is in a couple of weeks and thoughts turn to turkey, stuffing, gravy and everything else that you can put gravy on. My family is vegetarian, so we don’t partake in the turkey end of things, there’s plenty of poultry like substitutes proteins out there.

Families gather to gorge, laugh, drink and watch crappy football and catch up on their lives. No matter how modest or big the dinner is, it’s truly a time to pause and be thankful. Families grow and sometimes shrink, and traditions are passed down or they pass away, and new one’s born. For me Thanksgiving is all that, and Brussels sprouts. Yes, you can get them through the year, and I figure I have them a half a dozen times throughout the year. Something connects me, (the old grizzled, scotch plied, Big Lebowski dude me), to the very young me who grew up with barely a pot to piss in. We were poor, not that Brussels sprouts are caviar, but my mom didn’t do vegetables outside of potatoes and beans and corn. As she pulled together whatever resources she to provide a “bountiful feast”, the one exotic vegetable was Brussels sprouts. Looking back, they were probably not that good, my mom couldn’t cook. They were probably smothered in butter and way too salty.

Brussels Sprouts, 2014

Diane Plaisted

Oil on gesso board, 6” x 6”

I, on the other hand, have mastered them. Fresh halved sprouts pan seared with brown sugar and pecans until they’re caramelized. Then a shot of bourbon, let it reduce further with a pinch of fresh ground sea salt and black pepper.

Brussels Sprouts, Pale Green, 2018

Barbara Hazard

Oil on canvas, 24” x 22”

Don’t get me wrong, I love sweet potatoes and cornbread stuffing with lots of parsley and herbs, along with the other special guest dishes that have adorned the holiday dinner table. I love gravy enough to start a support group, but my first forkful of Thanksgiving was, is, and will always be Brussels sprouts.

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