The hard truth is that many vegetables can be an acquired taste – and most of us don’t bother trying until we’re older. Even so, Brussels sprouts are considered by many folks to be the worst of the worst sulfuric offenders.
The reason? They actually were super bitter, according to farmer Steve Bontadelli.
“In the late 1960s, our industry switched over to mechanized harvesting, which required a plant that would mature fairly evenly over the entire stem. They were horribly bitter, and we turned off an entire generation.”
By the 1990s the sprouts were less litter, and people began to slowly try them on their plates again.
Over a years-long project, they bred the ideal, less-bitter plant and slowly, they became more popular.
The rising popularity of the Food Network and other cooking shows didn’t hurt, giving people more confidence to give sprouts a second chance.
The real turning point, according to Slate’s J. Bryan Lowder, was jettisoning the idea that vegetables did not belong in the oven.
Chefs Johanne Killeen and George Germon led the charge, though not on purpose – their Rhode Island restaurant only had an oven, so they used it to roast vegetables and ended up recommending the technique in their 1991 cookbook Cucina Simpatica.
Now, whether you go simple with your seasonings or enjoying branching out with fish sauce or a thick Balsamic vinegar glaze, they’re completely delightful – so if you haven’t given them a second chance, there’s no time like the present.