The Absurd and Amazing Adventures of Cafe Girl: Trying Something New

January 17, 2012

Trying Something New

The first time I ate Brussels sprouts, I was fifteen.

We were on a family vacation in Europe. I think we were in Italy, or Switzerland. The exact details of where escape me, but the memory of the taste of of these tiny cabbage-looking vegetables, do not.

The Brussels sprouts were mushy, slightly bitter, and smelt like old rubber shoes. In short, they were disgusting.

Since then, and it's been approximately 19 years, I've avoided Brussels sprouts. In spite of multiple friends who have told me that Brussels sprouts are sadly misunderstood - that they don't have to be mushy and smell like old shoes - I simply couldn't bring myself to try them.

Just the thought of Brussels sprouts brought back memories of that first bite. That first, squishy, pungent, bite. That bite that made me gag and spit into my napkin. First tastes are not unlike first dates - that first impression counts. And in my case Brussels sprouts had made a bad first date fumble.

But last week, I decided to give Brussels sprouts another chance. Partly because it was the new year, partly because I really believe in trying new foods, and partly because I'd been told, again, how yummy these could be.

Ina Garten's recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts is remarkably simple. With just four ingredients - Brussels sprouts, olive oil, salt and pepper - it was a easy week night recipe. Getting home after work and my evening run, I sliced the Brussels sprouts into halves, tossed them with olive oil, and liberally salted and peppered them. Then I put the sprouts into the oven and jumped into the shower.

At twenty minutes, I could hear the olive oil crackling in the oven. In another twenty minutes, I was greeted with Brussels sprouts that were caramelized and crisp on the outside, and tender on the inside. I popped one into my mouth. It was savory, peppery, and just this side of sweet. It was luxurious.

It feels a little silly to say now, but in the moment, I felt victorious. I had taken a risk, tried a new way, and now had a new food to add to my plate.

I guess I've been thinking a lot about taking risks and change recently. Thing is, the latter half of 2011 has been all about taking risks and accepting change. In the last six months, life took an unexpected turn. A conversation turned into a first date, then a second, and a third, and then a fourth.

There is now a "we." There are date night Fridays, and Saturday morning brunches. There are day trips, long road trips, holidays spent together. There are the meeting of friends and the meeting of families. There is now a "plus one." And there are conversations - light ones, funny ones, absurd ones, long ones, emotional ones, quiet ones, ones where we ask, "What is next for us?"

I've found myself asking, more than once, "Should I say this?" I've found myself thinking, more than once, "Should I feel this?" And the memory of first heart break, bitter and pungent, comes back strong. It makes me want to gag.

But in the end, I choose to take a risk. I risk my pride - showing emotions that make me feel, and possibly even appear, weak. I risk my heart - opening it a little earlier and a little wider than I previously have. I choose to try a new way - a painfully and awkwardly honest new way. And with every risk, I hold my breath and brace myself.

Yet, I am not alone. With every conversation I have, every change I make, every risk I take, I see that he is going through the same. For the first time, I can say with absolute confidence - I am not alone in this. I am with.

Life is now just this side of sweet. And it feels luxurious.

1 comment:

Posh Lady said...

So happy for you!