Don't knock it 'till you've tried it...

>> Monday, 17 December 2007

So, I promised a list of things I like about Christmas. Obviously there are the common-or-garden ones; dressing the tree, mulled wine and mince pies, the Boy's growing excitement, the fuzzy felt Advent calendar I dig out every year, the opportunities to wish everyone a Happy Christmas, cold crisp mornings, the possibility (so rarely delivered) of snow, and carols etc. But I thought that actually I wouldn't bore you with those. No, I thought I would think outside the box here. So here is the first of my alternative Christmas Top Picks....

Brussel Sprout Soup.

Yes, that's right. Brussel Sprout Soup. Now, don't click away in disgust, hear me out on this one; I promise you might rethink your attitude to the humble sprout by the time I've finished...

My mother is a wonderful cook. No, make that fabulous. She's self taught; from the age of around 9 her mum left her to do most of the family's cooking every summer, whilst she went and ran the family business with my grandfather (they had a caravan park on the South Coast).

Unlike most grandmothers, I don't have fond memories of her apple pie or roast potatoes. My abiding memories of Nana's cooking are of being knocked sideways by the smell of roast pheasant as we entered the house; my grandfather liked to go shooting, and liked the resultant game well-hung. Past the point of hygeine, some might say. I also remember picking the shot out of said pheasant. And most memorable of all, I recall Nana serving a particularly 'interesting' soup one lunchtime. Very heavy, somewhat greasy, with a rather strange after-taste. We asked curiously what it was. "Rabbit pie soup" she said. It transpired we were eating the left-over rabbit pie from the previous day, pastry and all, tossed in the blender with some left-over gravy and a little hot water. British war-time cooking at it's awful best.

Consequently, the bar wasn't set that high for my mother when she took the reins in the kitchen. Against all the odds though, she is famous amongst family and friends for being a superb cook. But when she presented us with an unidentfiable green soup one Boxing Day many years ago, I must admit there were questions in the house, of the 'rabbit pie soup' genre. Being smart, she refused to tell us what it actually was until we'd tried it.

Mum's the only person in our family who actually likes Brussel Sprouts; for years we children were forced to eat a couple at Christmas lunch (waste not, want not). If it was on the table we were expected to try it. But once we left home, all bets were off, and we flatly refused to have any of the blighters on our plates. At this point, my father came out of the closet, and admitted that he too had never really been that keen, so one Christmas my mother found herself with a tureen full of Brussels Sprouts that even she couldn't work her way through. And thankfully for the ozone layer, she didn't try.

As would be the case with most mother's, simply throwing them away was not an option. Are you crazy? Whenever I visit my parents my first action is a 'search and destroy mission' in the fridge to remove all product well-past it's sell-by-date. (My father doesn't believe in them - but that's a post for another time).

So, she did what any self-respecting cook would do - in fact, what more of us should do, and scarily what I have found myself starting to do recently - she made some soup. With the stock left over from the ham she served on Christmas Eve. And wouldn't be drawn on the contents until we had actually tried it, and found that it was delicious.

We no longer begrudge Mum putting a tureen full of sprouts on the table each Christmas Day. As long as we don't have to eat them in their natural form, that is...


Elsie Button 17 December 2007 at 12:38  

hmmm can you ask your mum for the recipe? as far as i am concerned, spouts have no redeeming features. my mum also claims to like them (but i think she just says it to be different!) my grandfather also used to hang up the pheasants and ducks he had shot well past what was socially acceptable.

Potty Mummy 17 December 2007 at 12:48  

Hi Elsie, I don't think there is one. Just sprouts, ham stock, and black pepper. And maybe a bit of cream, but am not sure. Then again, what isn't helped by a bit of cream? In any case, it shouldn't work, but it does...

dulwichmum 17 December 2007 at 20:50  

Please, please, please - the full recipe? I adore brussels sprouts - I love, love, love them... Ask her about the cream, just make sure for me? Please?

Potty Mummy 17 December 2007 at 21:02  

DM, I will ask her, but it can't be tonight; she has 14 friends over for dinner in addition to the carol singers she will be plying with mulled wine at some point.

Is it any wonder I have a Domestic Goddess fixation?

Pig in the Kitchen 18 December 2007 at 13:12  

But they make you fart so! I do love them, but they ARE very antisocial!

Potty Mummy 18 December 2007 at 23:23  

True words indeed Pig. Perhaps this year I should buy my mother some air freshener for Christmas...

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