Monday, March 14, 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For

First, the good news: I won the gift basket at the farmers' market I visit every Sunday morning. Once a month, they have a drawing for a wicker basket with $100 worth of produce, and I have never won it before. I had a strong feeling I would win it this time so when they called with the news, I was not surprised.

The produce in the basket is predominantly green in honor of St. Patrick's Day. I thought briefly of giving it back as I am not Irish and therefore, perhaps, undeserving, but luck of the Irish, the urge passed. And now I am in a moral quandary as there was a huge stalk of brussels sprouts, which I heartily despise although it is undeniably picturesque ~ like a shillelagh with lymph nodes, capable of inflicting grave mortal damage. So I mentally inventoried everyone to whom I could give the thing and came up empty. Throwing it away is not an option because it would be wrong to scorn free food, nasty as it is, grown by a farmer and given to me. There have been times in my life when I was hungry, and I'm not about to tempt the fates again.

I looked online for recipes and learned that brussels sprouts on the stalk are likely to have tiny bugs in them and should be soaked for 15 minutes. I'm a vegetarian. After removing the little heads from their momma, I set them to soak in the kitchen sink last night and they are still there, emitting a terrible odor. As a child, I was often importuned to eat because of all the starving children in Europe. I passionately wished that my parents would take all that liver and cauliflower and send it to them. In today's world, there are starving children everywhere, and some of them would doubtless love to dine on brussels sprouts. Again, I am powerless to repair this inequity.

Yet my resistance is great. I even looked to The Buddha for loopholes, but he laughed. He instructed that we think about where the food came from and the amount of work necessary to grow it, transport it, prepare it and bring it to the table. I've already covered the growing and transporting part on my own, am stuck on preparing and eating it. One should then consider if one deserves the food. Do I detect a slight bit of wiggle room there? Clearly I am unworthy if I am spending so much energy on not eating food I was given. I am the very definition of "unworthy." If you look it up in the dictionary, you will see my picture. Food is only received and eaten for the purpose of "realizing the Way," which is undeniably difficult to accomplish while gagging. What we have here is a doctrinal dilemma.

The Five Moral Precepts are no killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, or partaking of intoxicants. I do none of those except maybe lying on occasion. You would think I could finagle a pass on brussels sprouts. Reading further, I learn that onions, garlic and other pungent plants are forbidden. No one could deny that brussels sprouts are pungent. I read faster, but no. The five plants are onions, garlic, scallions, chives and radishes because eating them creates anger and bad temperament as well as attracting hungry ghosts. I would be willing to attract ghosts if they would take these brussels sprouts off my hands.

My limited understanding of Buddhism tells me that food, eating and taste are all illusions anyway, not a part of our true, seeing nature, which is distorted by our ignorance. Buddhism aims to end all suffering, and I believe that I can best advance my true, seeing nature by not suffering at dinner. After all, charity begins at home. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


furiousBall said...

does drinking boxed wine classify as partaking of intoxicants? if so, I'm totally screwed

secret agent woman said...

You could cook them in an intoxicant and then be prohibited from eating them...

Barb said...

Hmmmm - do excuses count as lying? My Husband would totally agree with you - perhaps you could dig a hole in your back yard and they could act as compost, thereby giving back to the Earth?

Jo said...

*heh* Well, I am not a Buddhist, and you know how much I love brussels sprouts. They're my favourite TV snack. I love them with lots of butter, salt and pepper and some cranberry sauce. Oh, goodness, how could anyone not love brussels sprouts? I understand, though, that I am in the minority. :-)

nick said...

I suppose you could always bury the brussel sprouts in the garden, and they would then decompose and fertilise the plants. That way they wouldn't be wasted.

I doubt if Buddha would expect you to eat food you have a fundamental aversion to.

TaraDharma said...

I have personally converted many a bs hater with my recipe: slice bs thinly, slice a shallot thinly. Saute in butter and a little olive oil. Carmelize by adding 1 tsp vinegar and 1 tsp sugar and stirring. EXCELLENT. I kid you not.

And btw, I know many a buddhist priest that eats meat (something that's been killed) and drink alcohol. Shocking, I know!

la cartonaria said...

Firstly - Of course you're worthy - you have Buddha nature.
Secondly - guilt is a waste of time.
Thirdly - Lighten up....say a thank you to the plant, to the grower, to the market, & then either make some sort of Irish decomposing art out of it or throw the damn thing in the compost. Namaste

meno said...

I wonder how they would taste with ketchup? :)

the walking man said...

Brussels Sprouts are proof of how determined one has to be in order to be truly vegetarian.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


No, no, I'm sure you're fine. Boxes are not known intoxicants.


I like the way your mind works.


My friend, Barb, here has what I think is a brilliant idea.


I wish I could send them to you, and you're not even in Europe, or starving.


You're probably right. Mortification of the flesh is Christian, not Buddhist.


Your recipe sounds excellent, actually. I love shallots and good olive oil, and hope to avoid bringing a famine upon us.


Yes. Done, done, and done.


I don't like ketchup almost as much as I don't like mayonnaise. I love mustard, though.


I have my limits.

Anonymous said...

You and brussels sprouts, and me about brocolli. If you do decide to cook them (and I only gag them down with Christmas dinner, an old English tradition)make sure you don't overcook them. They are almost tolerable if they're still a bit crunchy. Amazing that the people who produce such wonderful chocolate could come up with such an awful vegetable.

Molly said...

We only had brussel sprouts when we ate in the dining room when I was growing up---roughly two or three times a year! And we were expected to polish them off with gusto.....No whining in front of guests!I kind of liked the way my mother prepared them so wasn't ever on the horns of a sprouts dilemma!The only problem I see with Nick's composting solution is that, in my own composting experience, that would mean you'd have another sprouts dilemma next year!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Even chocolate cannot compensate for brussels sprouts.


Not if I don't harvest it.

Kim said...

Just because something CAN be eaten doesn't mean it SHOULD be eaten. I don't think brussles sprouts are food. They are just too horendous.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


You are my kinda girl. Thanks for coming by with your words of wisdom.

Lex said...

I love them and eat them just about once a week. I would have gladly taken them off your hands.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


And where were you when I needed you?

Murr Brewster said...

All right. Make little crosses in the bottom end of each Brussels sprout so the steam will tenderize it. Then blanch and saute in a freakin' boatload of butter. If you still don't like it, have some intoxicants. You'll get 'em down.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I'll try your recipe the next time I win some as it's too late for the subjects of this post. (Yes, I'm being deliberately mysterious.)

Thank you for your visit! It's always great to add another delightful blog to my itinerary.

TechnoBabe said...

How did I miss this post? What did you do with the brussels sprouts? I really enjoy eating them. Any way they are prepared. I call them baby cabbages. I slice them and saute in little olive oil and seasonings and soy sauce.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


They've gone to a better place, bless their hearts.

mischief said...

like a shillelagh with lymph nodes !!!

I have never found such a hilarious description for brussels sprouts as this. I will always think of it now when I eat them, quite happily, with butter. :)

Maria said...

Brussels sprouts are vile. I would put them outside for the um...birds and squirrels.

Here on the would be a treat since nothing is growing yet.

Were there any peppers? Because my daughter and I could seriously eat raw peppers all day long.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

This is far and away one of your best posts.

I laughed ALL the way through and am still giggling a bit.

Give it to a food bank.
Someone, somewhere, likes brussel sprouts, or the stores wouldn't carry them.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore