GUEST POST from Don: Hans Van Doorn


If you are over 40 you probably think back to how AWFUL Brussels sprouts taste. You are wrong.

Your ability to remember is fine. Like you, I remember that … and lots of other stuff I thought was awful. For instance, I tried coffee…lots of times as a teen. I wanted to like coffee like my dad did, but could never find the value in it. I did not like black olives. I hated peas. Pork was ick. “Fish for supper?…A PB&J will be fine.”

The second problem with how we remember those green balls of ick is how our mothers served them. Mine, maybe yours, cooked them in water on the stove top, then drained the water and threw in a little margarine, and sprinkled them with salt and pepper. Other than presenting them raw, that is probably the worst way to get anyone to choke them down. Most recipes now talk about grilling, glazing, or pairing them with sauces. Even I might have eaten them THEN if my mom had presented them that way.

Like you, many of my tastes “matured.” I now love things like Jalapenos, coffee, black olives, pork, and even fish (if not very often). It is true that tastes DO change. We enjoy many things which we could not stand as our younger selves. That in itself is super weird. We don’t just grow bushy ear hairs as we age, we also look forward to eating objects we hated as kids.

But Brussels sprouts are different. They actually WERE awful when we were kids. If we ate the SAME Brussels sprouts now they would still taste incredibly awful. Even if our tastes “matured” they would still be the same bitter little suckers we dreaded.

That’s where Van Doorn comes in. “In the 1990s, a Dutch scientist named Hans Van Doorn identified the chemicals that make Brussels sprouts bitter: sinigrin and progoitrin. After discovering this, the scientist worked to identify Brussels sprouts seeds and varieties with lower levels of these bitter chemicals.“

Whereas, many scientists attempt to change a bad feature in an animal or plant with inserted genetic manipulation, Van Doorn merely crossbred less bitter sprouts with the high producing bitter variety until he hit upon a variety which has high production and tastes less bitter.

Result: Brussels sprouts TODAY do not taste as bad as they did when you were a kid.

Will you LIKE them?

“I do not like Brussels sprouts, Sam I Am…”

As Sam I Am was fond of saying, “You do not like them, so you say. Try them. Try them and you may. Try them and you may, I say.”

Copyright 2023 Donald Whelpley

[PLEASE NOTE that Don is always open to discussing the thoughts and opinions he shares here and welcomes comments as shared in the comment section. He doesn’t use other social media platforms, as I do, and won’t see whatever you’d like to share with him elsewhere. ~ Sherry]


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4 thoughts on “GUEST POST from Don: Hans Van Doorn

  1. Do NOT boil, drain, then coat with margarine and season with salt and pepper. Please!
    Are you trying to kill yourself?

    Use fresh sprouts. Roast them or pair with a special sauce. You still won’t want to eat a plate full, but one or two on the side will be rewarding to your adult tastes. (Forbid your children to try them). Then follow up the meal with something rewarding and nutritious, like chocolate mint ice cream.

    1. Valuable advice, that! I used to hate them, even as an adult. I don’t exactly love them now, but sauteed with some bacon and onion they are tolerable now.

  2. Yah!
    I would not even try to get my wife to try a bite. She REMEMBERS!!!
    It took 20 years to get her to endure eating a kidney bean.

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