Birth Order, Brussels Sprouts and You

Mom inadvertently proves a birth order expert correct when she introduces the infamous sprout at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

If you ever want to understand how birth order affects personality without the hassles of earning an expensive degree, introduce a new food to your kids and watch what happens.

I recently had the opportunity to hear Jack Agati, a birth order expert, speak at a PTO meeting. He is a dynamic public speaker, and would probably engage even the most scattered listener; however, like most things psychological, I gave it 15 minutes’ thought afterward and moved on with my life.

Until Thanksgiving.

I host most holidays at my house, and it’s a tradition we’ve all come to enjoy. I usually like to vary the menu a little bit every year just to keep things interesting. Also, what better way to find out if a dish really works than to serve it to a captive – but brutally honest – audience?

Anyhow, this year I decided to jump off a vegetal bridge by serving the heretofore evil sprouts. I don’t really like them. My husband doesn’t like them. My kids think they don’t like them.

Still, I persevered. We would eat sprouts, and be better people for it.

Dissecting the sprouts' success as a side dish over dinner proved almost all of Mr. Agati’s points about birth order, particularly how kids’ personalities, in a casual setting, assert themselves so naturally. In fact, it was so natural that I hardly noticed it when it occurred.

Me (only child): We are ushering in a new era. We are eating Brussels sprouts. They’re good for you! And I think they’re going to taste all right!

Teenager (oldest): Sigh. Mom, you know I don’t like trying new things …but …ok. (eats a sprout)

The Girl (middle): It’s not fair! I don’t like Brussels sprouts! How come The Duck only gets one and I have to have two? (pushes sprouts around on plate)

The Duck (youngest): Actually, Mom, these aren’t bad. (munching, reaching for a second sprout)

Teenager: What are you talking about, Duck? They are disgusting! (eats second sprout)

Me: Girl, put that sprout back on your plate or in your mouth where it belongs!

The Duck: I really like them, Mom. We should have these every night! (reaching for thirds)

Teenager: Duck! Shut up! She’ll do it, and then we’ll have to eat them again! (grimacing as he chews a third sprout)

The Girl: Look. Even the dogs think they’re disgusting.

Me: Dogs also eat poop. And both of you, watch your mouths. Girl, pick the sprout up off the rug right now!

Teenager: Finished. (displays empty plate with a flourish)

The Duck: Mom, I love Brussels sprouts.

The Girl: When I’m a mom, I’m never going to make my kids eat disgusting, poopy-stupid-shut-up Brussels sprouts. (poking sprouts, frowning when she realizes she has to eat them and they’re now cold)

Me: Sigh. Who wants fourths?

All in all, a successful venture. Next week: beets! 

Well, not really.

A Halfway Decent Brussels Sprouts Recipe

  • 4 cups fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Pour half the olive oil in the bottom of a saute pan, and place trimmed and halved sprouts cut-side-down in the oil.

Heat the pan over medium heat until sizzling. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt; add pepper to taste. Cover the pan and saute for 3 minutes.

Remove the cover and sprinkle the water over the sprouts. Return the cover and saute for 2 minutes.

Remove the cover again and sprinkle the sprouts with lemon juice. Leave uncovered, and vigorously mix the sprouts, and saute until caramelized (cut sides should appear browned), roughly 1 or 2 minutes.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper again, if desired. Serve immediately with a dash of luck or a deaf ear.

lemuelzapata December 13, 2011 at 10:54 AM
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