When I was growing up, my parents had a rule about eating what was for dinner. It wasn’t the clean plate rule, but instead was a more gentle “tasting” rule.
Specifically, you were obligated to at least take one bite of everything that was for dinner that night. I think the philosophy behind this practice was to make informed and open eaters out of my sister and me. I think my parents were also hoping that through repeated exposure, we’d actually start to like most foods.
I wasn’t a really picky eater, but there were certain vegetables that “weren’t my favorite” (the phrase my dad insisted we substitute for “I hate it”). As the child in this situation, it was important to me to make sure that when I took the obligatory taste to make sure one or both parents were watching. If they didn’t see it going into your mouth, they didn’t believe it, and then you’d have to eat an additional piece of tomato (boy did my parents feel bad when my doctor discovered I was allergic to raw tomatoes. Allergies were the single legitimate excuse to avoid something) or another little brussel sprout head.
I think about this rule now, because last night, for the first time in my adult life, I chose to make myself brussel sprouts (I grew out of the tomato allergy in my late teens). They were high on the list of distasteful veggies when I was younger (partially because my mom had a tendency to space out while cooking and let things overcook).
Making brussel sprouts for myself made me feel more like a grown up than anything else I did that day (especially since half an hour earlier I had had a temper tantrum because the normal Monday night Sci-Fi Channel Stargate SG-1 marathon wasn’t on). It was the good kind of grown up feeling, the one that makes me feel like I am able to make smart life choices, to take care of myself and to move my life in the right direction.
I never knew that brussel sprouts could carry such meaning!