Brussel sprouts


I really don’t like Brussel sprouts.

I don’t like the taste.

I don’t like the effect on my gastro-intestinal tract.

And nobody – including me — likes the devastating farts I produce after eating them. There are worse things, of course. As a child I had the most wonderful black Labrador, who — besides being in my opinion at the time, the best dog in the entire universe –- was very good at lying quietly at my feet under the dining-room table. I spent a fair amount of time sitting at that table with things I had decided I didn’t like on my plate. I sat there until I decided I did like them. I was a very obstinate child, of very obstinate parents, which proves four things: 1) Some things are heritable. My kids are my parents’ revenge. 2) I didn’t like cold Brussel sprouts any more than I liked hot Brussel sprouts. Less, in fact. 3) A loving dog, especially a Labrador that will eat anything that comes from your hand, is a treasure to a small, obstinate boy. 4) Eventually, that too will come out, and when you smuggle your dog onto your bed every night, (through the window. My mother knew, but wasn’t telling my father. My father knew but wasn’t telling my mother. Family dynamics… a book in itself) you’re going to have to live with the consequences, or at least the stink.

Now, because Brussel sprouts are full of vitamin K which assists in blood-clotting… if you’re on blood thinners to keep you alive, they could just kill you too. This is very rare, but a lot less rare than being killed by carrots. I am sure if you try hard you can come up with several great forms of carrot-ssassination, but frequent carrots are really, really good for you. You know it is mandatory that when you puke, there must be at least at least seven pieces of carrot, and four peas, undigested, or the universe itself will fall down the singularity created by violating this basic law of physics. It is much healthier to eat them regularly than to force your body to store them for years against this evil chance.

Yes, I like carrots, and peas more than Brussel sprouts. I don’t love carrots, or peas. They range from good to Okay.

But no-one (or no-one with two working brain cells) could say I was Brussel sprouts-phobic. I don’t have an exaggerated and irrational fear of them (that is what a ‘phobia’ is). I certainly don’t hate them, or want you not to eat them. You’re welcome to as many as you please, my share too. Just, if they have the same effect on you, please don’t stand downwind or share my bed. I can even eat them if I have to. This too will pass. But I don’t like them, for good logical reasons.

And no, I have no interest in trying them over and over again just in case I get to like the taste of them. It’s pretty unlikely I will die from them, but if that’ll do for an excuse, I’ll take it. The truth is, I am not that interested in eating them, and if I never saw another one on my plate… I probably wouldn’t notice. I don’t care much, and most of the time now I can actually say ‘no thank you’ or leave them on my plate and still get dessert.

Yes, this does relate to books –as well as many things from taking in ‘migrants’ or refugees to eating undesired veggies.

I hear ‘transphobic’, and ‘homophobic’, and ‘Islamophobic’ a lot (I daresay we’ll have melanophobic and gynophobic any moment now). There may be some genuine exaggerated and irrational fear of any of these things. There can also be disinterest or plain dislike. It can even be quite logical for that individual. Honestly, telling me – or any reader – they are xyz-phobic not to want to read your book which is all about xyz… is only going to work, if I care what you think.

And if you’re going to know that I, specifically, think it.

That, I think, is where the disconnect between sales expectations and reality of many of those in NY Traditional Publishing – or those pushing for more Syrian migrants – becomes apparent.

Firstly, people may well not have the desire to open themselves up to the shrieking and attacks of the left-wing SJW’s by publically stating that no, they really have no interest in a book about xyz victim, that they don’t like them (and rationality doesn’t matter) and they’re not going to spend their money on it. They don’t have to say anything. They vote, in a kind of secret ballot. Money is a very sincere form of voting.

And secondly, people increasingly just don’t care. The ones pointing, shrieking, threatening, accusing them of being SCARED of xyz… are not people they respect, or whose opinion matters to them in least. Often they’ve managed to make themselves disliked by those who don’t care’s peer group. Often they have amply demonstrated they don’t have any credibility to criticize. Take John Scalzi telling folk that don’t want an influx of Muslim Syrian refugees that being frightened, ignorant and cowardly is no way to go through life… Hang on… is this the guy who worries about ‘microagression’ (or are we at nano-aggressions, or maybe even pico-aggressions), supports ‘safe spaces’ and needs a fainting couch for the terribly offensive word ‘pussy’ (my cat is not impressed), bans any dissent, and has no experience whatsoever of working or fighting with the people he’s talking about? A lot of the folk who do object have combat experience (or actually know people with that experience) some in the in the ME or Afghanistan. I know if I was looking for someone I could be sure wasn’t frightened, ignorant and cowardly, I’d bet on the latter group.

It’s not a ‘phobia’ we’re talking about. They might be wrong. That is possible. But you need credibility, you need to SHOW people, not tell them, or try to shame them, or bully them. If you can show them that your Trans hero is entertaining and likeable, if you can show them your ‘refugee’ is going to be a good citizen and integrate into their society… you can sell your book, get your refugee asylum. If you’re going to appeal to your authority, well, you need to be credible, be someone the reader can trust and respect.

If not… learn to disguise your Brussel sprout. One chopped up fine and mixed into a pot of molten lava conflagration Chili works pretty well.

And, yes, that’s good book advice too.


  1. As someone who enjoys Brussel sprouts, I am offended at your intolerance. This sort of vegetable othering is reminiscent of the worst excesses of Geramny’s national socialist party and its hatred of jews, gypsies and slavs based on their race. Brussel sprouts can’t help their brassic nature, it is part of their intrinsic genetic and cultural heritage. The fact that YOUR taste buds and gut biome are unable to handle their vigor is a reflection on you not them.

    Furthermore your childhood behavior of feeding these poor vegetables to a carnivore is disgraceful. This is animal neglect bordering on oppression if not outright abuse akin to slavery. Just as black human slaves were forced to subsist on the leavings of their owners and whatever said exploiters deigned to provide them, so too did you abuse the loyalty and trust of a dumb animal by feeding it your unwanted food, food that was in fact manifestly unsuited for it and which no doubt caused digestive issues.

    (cont’d P 94)

    Dave Spart

    1. With the greatest of all due respect, I fear you have either 1) been around acadamia nuts too long or 2) need to turn off M$NBC (or get out of the waiting room where it is being inflicted) and take a nice, long walk. Because you have the cant down waaaaaaay too well. 🙂

    2. We supertasters recognise the wicked sprouts for the evil they are, and uproot them at every turn. Or feed them to the goats, a fit end for any noxious weed.

      1. Well then, you are in violation of the secret gentlemen’s agreement we have about not drinking anything while reading a certain kind of website.

  2. This is how I get a lot of those veggies I do not like, but need- chili and stew. I’m not a big fan of the taste of spinach alone, but put in in a blender and add it to melting-hot chili, well, hot sauce covers a lot of things well…

    As for the rest, well, it’s easier to market bacon than brussel sprouts. Or ice cream, or pizza, or any of the other well-loved flavors that people gobble up and ask for more- because that’s what they *want,* not what some other person thinks they *need.*

      1. Wasabi icecream. Bad color, bad flavor, tried once and never repeated. The guys at Coldstone Creamery agreed that it was not one of HQs better ideas, at least not in the Midwestern market.

    1. Take your spinach and stirfry it in a skillet with bacon cut into fine bits. When it’s all mooshy, decant it into a non stick sprayed pyrex. Cover liberally (VERY LIBERALLY) in chedar cheese. Add seasoning to taste (I use Greek seasoning.) Assuming you started with 2 lb frozen spinach take six eggs and about half a cup of cream and beat it together till foamy. Put on top of the spinach and cheese. Dust top with parmesan. Bake at 350 until top is gold and no part is liquid.
      Sarah-who-hates-all-vegetables and whose younger son hates all vegetables more, but asks for this dish.

  3. I’ve never understood the phobic thing–or Brussel sprouts, for that matter. I guess this is a case of life reflecting literature, because there seem to be an awful lot of Humptys shrieking and waving their hands.

    1. I suspect it’s a fair amount of projection. They’re irrationally and exaggeratedly afraid of things (hence the ‘safe spaces’ and ‘micro-aggressions’), so we must be too.

    2. Take Brussels sprouts. Cut them in half. Cover them in olive oil. (I put a little bit of olive oil in a bowl and roll them in it a few at a time) set them face down on a baking pan. Pepper and salt to taste. Bake 40 minutes at 350. It bakes the cabbage out of them. Is much better for… ah, after effects too. Even Amanda Green who hates Brussels sprouts more than other vegetables tolerates them done this way. I just hate them same as other vegetables, but I’ve been known to binge eat them done this way.
      The “phobic” thing I got no explanation for.

  4. I kinda like steamed sprouts in a decent sauce. I like raw spinach, or hot, just-wilted spinach with bacon and vinegar. I greatly prefer other stuff, and cannot abide bitter greens like kale, arugala and so on. And anyone else can have my celery, please. Unless it is part of the pork in white-wine recipe from the Frugal Gourmet (so you can’t really taste it.)

    But tell me “You have to eat it. It’s gourmet/a super food/trendy/part of a special culture/[about a member of an underrepresented ethnic/sexual/religious group]” and I can guarantee that food [book] will be untouched on the plate when you come back, and I’ll be long gone.

    1. Sprouts, tossed with red onion, a little garlic and slices of kielbasa sausage in a light drizzle of olive oil and oven-roasted until tender … perfect side dish for Thanksgiving dinner.

      Make it good and tasty and engaging – and they will come. For a well-cooked dish, or a well-done story.

    2. It’s a form of bullying – and only works if you’re afraid (for good reason, or not) of the bully. Note – these bullies have destroyed lives and cost people jobs, and yes, they enjoy doing so.

        1. They are the prime illustration of the old saw that some people are alive only because it’s illegal to kill them.

          Remember not everyone has access to 40 acre wilderness and a backhoe. 😛

  5. Funny story (I think). My Dad disliked certain vegetables (don’t remember if Brussel sprouts was one), but always ate what Mom served him because he didn’t want to give us kids the idea that we didn’t have to eat them.

    My sister *still* complained about some of the same vegetables that Dad disliked and Dad supported Mom. [Grin]

    By the way, it was years later that Mom learned that Dad disliked those vegetables. Dad had never told her. [Big Grin]

    1. We agreed (partly as a result of Barbs half-sister’s disfunctional family, where the kid learned from about 4 to trade parents off against each other, to get what he wanted.) on a common in-front-of-the-kids front. But the story about the dog on my bed was kinda like that. Both my parents thought the other would get mad if they knew I was doing that.

      1. My sister and I often asked Dad for permission about a lot of things when we *thought* Mom would say no.

        Dad’s first question was “have you asked your mother?” and we knew that a truthful “no” was the only answer acceptable.

        Oh Dad, knowing Mom would have said “no”, often talk it over with Mom and sometimes afterwards would give us a “yes”.

        Of course, Dad would sometimes give us a “no”. [Smile]

      2. Both my parents thought the other would get mad if they knew I was doing that.

        I did something similar. For years I played one parent off against another one without even realizing that’s what I was doing! I grew up in a family of four: me, my sister, and Mom and Dad. There was a family rule about not reading at the table, since that’s time to talk together as a family. (Which is a rule that I actually like and think is a good idea, for the record.) But when one parent was absent for whatever reason, I’d often say “Well, since there’s just the three of us, is it okay if I read at the table?” And permission was usually granted.

        I did that for years. Then one day when I was home from college and my sister wasn’t around, I asked, “Since there’s just the three of us, is it okay if I read at the table?” Both Mom and Dad said “Sure,” then looked at each other and said, “I thought you were the one who didn’t like reading at the table.” Turns out that both of them had been enforcing the family rule not because they personally felt strongly about it, but because they thought the other one felt strongly about it. Which speaks well to their marriage.

        But I was immensely amused (as well as a little chagrined) to find out that I’d been accidentally playing one parent off against the other for all those years.

  6. Here’s the thing about Brussel sprouts, most are overcooked, which releases a nasty compound and makes them hard to eat, especially for folks that are “super-tasters”. (I’m one and can’t stand coffee or over cooked greens.) Alton Brown had a full episode of “Good Eats” that went into detail of the chemistry and proper prep of sprouts. That being said, they still may not be tasty to some and that roughage combined with said compound may causes some noxious gas discharges.

    I find it ironic that a certain groups of folks have attacked readers, gamers coders and voters for not liking their overcooked mushy messages. I don’t care about the sex or species or chemistry of your protagonist, I want good entertainment value from my books and games. I don’t care who writes the code, I want good, secure code by professionals. I want serious good leadership for my nation in these interesting times, not some feel good crazy cat lady filling the nation with all the strays out of kindness until the floor becomes nasty due to the lack of litter boxes and constant fights break out for lack of affection.

    1. Which is all logical. But will get you called nasty names…
      Broccoli is another veg which can go from really nice to utterly vile, depending on how soon after picking you can cook it, and how much you cook it. The sulfurous compounds just are not there if you pick it and eat it, raw, immediately.

  7. Every once in awhile my path takes me over the top of a major highway exchange. Sixty or eighty feet in the air, going sixty miles an hour, crowded among fast moving cars. Sweating, breathing fast, hands clenching on the wheel, eye focused down on the road immediately ahead.

    And the next time I have to go that direction, I’ll be checking the map and seeing if there’s another route . . . with my knees weak and sweat prickling the back of my neck as I sit safely at home looking for a way to avoid that high overpass.

    This is a phobia.

    Not wanting refugees from a poisonous culture to move to my country in groups that will retard their fitting in? With, already, a couple of instances of terrorists hiding among them?

    This is common sense.

    Except it appears to have become rather uncommon.

    1. You have assigned a factual meaning to the word, rather than admitting your bias against its updated definition. Clearly you are wordophobic!

    2. Yep. Even IF the terrorists are a very rare threat (as Sprouts are) that’s still real, and orders of magnitude bigger than the rare threat from existent residents… the issue of other aspects of the the culture (or effects of the sprouts) make it rational to be less-than-interested. The right way (not the easy way) is to work on changing the non-integration – and dealing openly with the many issues that make this a very different culture and poor fit in.

    3. Not a fan of the High Five? I think you can service road around it.
      I worked with a guy who called one day out on deliveries. He suddenly could not force himself to drive over a certain bridge (The Luling Bridge over the Mississippi). I think his sudden phobia was exacerbated by the anguish of suffering from it and that he could drive over the main subject of phobias in the N.O. area, the Huey P. Long bridge (knew another guy who refused to drive over it and hated riding over it with someone else driving. Train coming? total panic)

      1. Yeah, it’s weird. I don’t have any problem climbing trees or ladders, looking over cliffs or out high windows. But there are several high overpasses that get to me.

  8. I had considered that the answer, should I ever be forced to give one, to someone who would accuse me of not wishing to read a book because I was phobic would be that they were partially correct. I am wasting-time-phobic.

    After further thought I realized that the fear of wasting time is not an exaggerated or an irrational fear. I am past the mid-point of my life. There are far more books, ones I want to read, then there will be time for me to read them. Therefore I concluded that my best tact was to avoid not only certain books, but those who defend them as well.

  9. Oh Lord. Brussel Sprouts. Forget tasting them; the *smell* is enough to make me nauseous. And Mama Raptor, for reasons nobody else in the family can fathom, loves them. No idea how she cooks ’em, but when she does cook ’em, the whole downstairs smells like the aftermath of Free Bean Burrito Day at Taco Bell. So there is nothing irrational about my hatred of the sprouts.

    As for the “refugees,” I don’t hate them. I just look at what’s happened in countries that have already let them in (Sweden & Norway, for instance, where the number of rapes and assaults on women have gone through the roof), and think that I don’t want that to happen here, and I look at the pictures and videos of the groups of “refugees” moving through Europe and notice that, with the exception of the obvious propaganda “news” pieces, the overwhelming majority of them appear to be military-aged men.

    But I keep my mouth shut precisely because I’m sick of being called “Islamaphobic” and “not a true Christian” for pointing those things out. With the refugees, I mean, not the sprouts. Even my Vegan friend who’s a borderline SJW (we’ve known each other since 2nd grade and she’s still at least semi-rational) can’t stand sprouts.

    1. ‘Keep my mouth shut’ has I think deluded the Power-that-be – both in publishing and politics – that really everyone agrees with them. I seriously think they BELIEVE that, having silenced opposition by what amounts to bullying, that really almost no-one disagrees with them. That it was a very tiny minority, irrelevant really.

      I think a lot of people thought they were the only one who didn’t like it, didn’t approve, and therefore didn’t want say anything. As more people discover they are not alone in their opinions. I suspect the tiny minority are the pointers and shriekers and, given an anonymous vote, that is demonstrated. Their books don’t sell. Their candidates are not supported.

      1. Yep. This is why they are in utter shock when things like Sad Puppies crop up. They thought they’d won this battle. how dare we not be dead on the battle field?

  10. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    Show the Brussel Sprouts, or hide them. Or cook them in a nice butter and mushroom sauce, with some lemon on top. If you know how to cook and don’t insist that the kid eat the overcooked boiled lumps, it’s a win-win. The Big Five seem to insist that we MUST feed on overcooked burned Brussel Sprouts. And they wonder why nobody wants to eat at their place.

    1. OTOH, there’s a “lightly cooked” craze that’s done terrible things to vegetables. As someone who happens to like Brussels Sprouts, I think it depends on growing conditions much more than cooking, just as growing lettuce too close together will make it bitter.

  11. I think there are some foods you can cook together with brussels sprouts, cabbage, etc. to promote digestion.

    That said, I’m not going to force an adult or a kid to eat something his system doesn’t like, or which doesn’t agree with him.

    (Although I also spent a lot of nights alone at the family kitchen table staring at food I didn’t like, and knowing I’d have it for breakfast if I didn’t finish it now. It’s a German-American thing.)

    1. Not just German-American.

      Momma told the story of being served the same plate of liver for three meals a day before her mother gave up on the third day.

    2. Me too on staring at foods, and I’m neither German nor American. There was this cold black eyed pea “salad” mom made that I despised so badly I once fell asleep on a plate of it during Sao Joao rather than eat it and be outside at the bonfire with all the other kids.

        1. Kids staring at food, all over the world. Kinda heartwarming.

          (And yes, it was usually liver. Albeit the use of catsup, rapid chewing, and chipmunk cheeks helped a lot.)

            1. I’ve heard that the nasty-tasting compounds in liver can be largely removed by soaking it in milk for an hour. (You then throw away the milk, of course). Haven’t tried it yet myself, but considering how many people swear by (not at) liver & onions, it’s on my list to try sometime.

        1. I read the reviews before I started (I never do that for whatever reason but this time I did) and one said that it ended abruptly, then I read the intro that said the original afterward had been added back… so when I got to the end I was really paying attention. It *would* have been too abrupt an end without it, going from dire peril to safe and done in the matter of no more than two pages. The ending was a nice wrap up, I thought, giving some notion of how the world carries on afterward. The lottery idea was an excellent and satisfying dig at the notion that some people are smart enough to dictate the lives of others.

          In any case, yes, I liked it. And then I went on to read Mankind Witch instead of studying for a Physics test. (How do I make a frowny-face emoticon?) I thought that was pretty great, too, but I’m Norse and in that sense the subject matter makes me easy to please. 😉

          1. Dave got me to read Mankind Witch when I mentioned to him I had stopped reading the Heirs series. I liked the characters but just couldn’t stay in the story after the first book.
            Loved the book and pestered him not long ago for more about Cair and Signy.

  12. The point of “phobia” was probably to shift the topic from the subject at hand to the opponent and to put their opponent on the defensive:

    “You’re a -phobic.”
    “No, I’m not.”

    Once this happens, they no longer have to provide support for their argument. Very handy when they don’t have a strong argument to begin with. As you say, it only works if you value the opinion of whomevert said “-phobic” in the first place – or those who are listening.

    I’m not sure how to address it:

    “You’re a -phobe.”
    “Wow. You really are as stupid as you look.”

    “You’re a -phobe.”
    “Don’t be such a twit.”

    “You’re a -phobe.”
    “You don’t have much of an argument, do you?”

    Or it could be tailored to the argument. In Scalzi’s case:

    “You’re an Islamophobe.”
    “How many Syrian refugees are you putting up in your home?”

    “You’re an Islamophobe.”
    “If ISIS wanted to cut off your head, you would be, too.”

    1. Showing that I am a homophobe necessarily requires showing that the set of homosexuals and the set of child molesters are the same set. Tell me more about how homophobic I am.

      You can try:
      As an engineer I need reasonable accommodation for my disability of homophobia. Things that are the same are triggering, so we need to stop using interchangeable replaceable standardized parts.

      (Mass production is soulless my rear end. Those that can’t appreciate precision manufacturing are philistines.)

  13. “You’re a [whatever]-ophobe!”
    Yep, you got me. I’m terrified of those [whatever]. Why aren’t you? Do you have any idea of their history of committing [insert appropriate atrocity here]. And when they say they want to [do whatever] to me, I believe them!

  14. “And secondly, people increasingly just don’t care.”
    This is the point I’m getting to. I’ll look after me and mine and pray for the rest.

  15. I have personal experience either with phobias, or with a strong irrational fear that fails to reach the intensity of a phobia.

    The closest candidate for what the left might accuse me of probably doesn’t count, and I have had stronger candidates for an actual phobia.

    The fear I had of child molesters when I was young may have been too rational for a phobia. I took measures to protect myself, and I even seem to have a case of them working. So, it looks like sane risk management, combined with a touch of anxiety.

    As for the specific immigration matter, 10k or 25k is not that much compared to the illegals. Even supposing that they are all terrorists, at most we are probably talking about 3 to 8 million dead. That isn’t enough to finish the job, so most likely there is no grounds for me to be afraid for my own sake. I think it is an unnecessary risk that could discredit the Democratic Party.

    As for the general immigration matter, the form of a government is relevant. A democracy has no permanent deals, but responds to the will of the mob. A republic is a deal about the sharing of power. If a faction cheats by bringing in outside support without negotiation, the deal is void, and has no moral force.

    1. The thing about a phobia is, if you have to, you can get past it enough to fuction. Eventually. I’m not sure any of the people throwing -phobic accusations have ever dealt with one.

      I still say that an i.v. hurts more than giving birth, and yes, I do realize it is all in my head. But if I see a vaccine coming, I probably won’t flip out. Anymore.

      Also all brassicas besides cabbage are not fit for human consumption, no matter how or if they’ve been prepared.

  16. My objection to brussels sprouts is a conceptual one: things the size and shape of meatballs just shouldn’t be green. 🙂

  17. And the weirdest thing about Brussels Sprouts is that they’re a developed food. Somebody had to work for generations to create it. Which brings up the question of why? What did future generations ever do to you to make you hate them so?

  18. Oddly enough, I like Brussels sprouts. I like cabbage, and the concept of bite-sized brassicas – Cabbage McNuggets, if you will – appeals to me. 🙂

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