THERE IS A CERTAIN level of society that has elevated food to a status symbol. Sadly, I inhabit that level. I say sadly because while I like having enough to eat, I dislike having it while others have none. There seems little to do about this besides donating to those charities promising to send food to the needy, and so I do this every so often to assuage my guilt. Otherwise, I keep pace with my peers by dining out frequently and cooking up a storm at home.
As for the status symbol part, lately I have noticed that the once-ignored and universally eschewed Brussels sprout has apparently gotten a new agent and is now the literal superstar of sides, showcased front and center on every menu from the crummiest diner to the snootiest restaurant, Maine to California. And the price extracted in the pursuit of its fame is downright criminal.
It’s like what happened to Meg Ryan: Once she was adorable and genuine, perfect and pure and so very pretty, truly “America’s sweetheart.” Then she got her face “done” and now she’s a total mess, so much so that she quit acting and hides from the public, spending her days indoors, likely baking cookies with her children and watching reruns of “Sleepless in Seattle.” This is surely where the Brussels sprout is headed, although right now it is enjoying its day in the sun, ever-so Botoxed and lifted and tucked, sliced, diced and chopped in a myriad of creative ways.
Last night, out to dinner with my husband, we ordered the poor thing in hopes that it would arrive still tasting like itself. But alas, no such luck; in place of the plump, juicy, nutty little morsels we love, we were served a mash of chopped greens awash in butter, adorned with bacon bits, with a hint of orange essence and a lump of runny blue cheese that one could disperse at will. If you closed your eyes and concentrated really hard you could pick up a hint of the original flavor of a Brussels sprout, but it wasn’t really worth the trouble. Also, it looked bad.
A couple at the next table was gorging on a huge bowl of something unrecognizable. We asked the waitress and she explained they were “truffle-oil-infused cheese fries topped with Parmesan cheese.” I wanted to take a picture but Mitch thought that was rude.
Andrea Rouda blogs at the Daily Droid.