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Roisin Gorman’s open letter... on sprout

Sprouts continue to taste of chronic wind and leave the kitchen smelling like the dog’s cooking up another Chernobyl’

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Many people can’t stand the taste of sprouts, but they’re popular at Christmas time

Many people can’t stand the taste of sprouts, but they’re popular at Christmas time

Many people can’t stand the taste of sprouts, but they’re popular at Christmas time

THE demise of the sprout has been predicted — it must be nearly Christmas. It’s the Macaulay Culkin of the vegetable world, entirely forgotten for the rest of the year, but at least his annual outing in Home Alone is greeted with nostalgic fondness. Surely no one actively welcomes a sprout. In a recent survey, Tesco reported that a quarter of 18 to 24-year-olds hate sprouts, so the days of the tiny cabbage are numbered. However, it means that three quarters of Generation Z, who are too old to be bribed, threatened or blackmailed into eating any vegetable, must like sprouts, when they’ve got a perfectly scientific reason not to. According to the experts, half of us have a gene which makes sprouts taste bitter, so it’s not our fault they’re the work of the devil. Experts recommend the bitterness can be reduced by picking them after a frost — I must let my local supermarket know to wait for a chilly morn — cutting them in half, cooking them with sugar, or, and this is foolproof, just don’t eat them. In the interests of being an adult who has grown-up tastes, I have bathed sprouts in blue cheese, sprinkled them with bacon, added chilli and soy — anything to disguise the flavour of concentrated cabbage. By comparison, kale’s on the brassica A-list. Sprouts continue to taste of chronic wind and leave the kitchen smelling like the dog’s cooking up another Chernobyl. She got one by accident once. It was a memorable Christmas. But it’s not just sprouts which can be rejected because of genetics. I’ve had many delightful Indian meals ruined by coriander leaves because of their distinctive taste of soap. To most people, apparently the herb tastes slightly citrussy. For somewhere between four and 14pc of us — you’ve got to love scientific certainty — the leaves taste like someone has garnished your dinner with Fairy Liquid. It’s because of something called aldehydes, which serve as a genetic warning of poison ahead and pop up in soap and stink bugs. My taste buds need to lie down in a darkened room. Some artificial sweeteners have a similarly disastrous effect and after the first hit of sugar leave the metallic taste of sucking a penny. It’s down to the stimulation of bitter taste receptors along with the sweet and means that diet drinks are out. If the only option is a gin and slim, I’ll have water. Honey may be a miracle of nature but it’s also singularly gross — sorry, bees. Manuka might cure everything from a sore throat to global warming, but it tastes like the smell of pee. The rich golden texture lures you in and the whiff of wee sends you running for the mouthwash. I’ll take my chances with the sore throat. Turnip takes all of the above and laughs at it from the premier league of foul tastes. If someone has even thought of putting the tiniest amount of turnip in a stew the smell clings like mustard gas. No wonder they were used as early Halloween lanterns — the odour is enough to terrify anyone. I’m not sure if that’s genetic, but it’s personal. The asparagus fallout is entirely genetic and affects about half of us. If that means nothing, then you’ve never inhaled the heady scent of a post-asparagus toilet visit and wondered what demons have conjured up the sulphur. I’d prefer to give the dog another sprout.

Email roisin.gorman@sundayworld.com

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