An advertisement for a trip to Yellowstone National Park

People of a certain age remember an old commercial introducing Life cereal, one of the first cereals touted as being particularly healthful. Two mop-headed boys (presumably brothers) are at the breakfast table, pondering a bowl of the little squares, which are made from oats but look suspiciously like shredded wheat. They decide to try it out on their younger brother, saying “Let’s get Mikey. He won’t like it — he hates everything.”

Mikey then digs in with relish, as one of the brothers shouts “He likes it! Hey Mikey!”

I thought of that commercial the other day when my wife announced that she was preparing brussel sprouts to go along with the rest of dinner. I was skeptical, given that I could not recall ever eating a brussel sprout. They weren’t a part of the culinary repertoire when I was a boy, and I was never inspired to pursue them as an adult: they’re rarely on the menus of restaurants I visit, and I wasn’t motivated to try fixing them myself. I had a vague memory of seeing them on buffet lines, pale and overcooked, bobbing around in too much water.

But, I now enjoy cabbage, collards, turnip greens and spinach, none of which I would eat as a child, and I happily try different foods when I travel, so I kept an open mind. Jan split the sprouts lengthwise and sauteed them with a little margarine and olive oil, salt and pepper. She then topped the dish with a sprinkling of shredded mozzarella and, voila! If my brothers had been around, they could have said “He likes it! Hey Tony!”

Every now and then, we get little reminders of how vast and wonderful is this world and the many aspects of creation. I was grateful not only for my gifted wife, but for a first (and second) helping of brussel sprouts.

As an old friend used to say, “Who woulda thunk it?”

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