“Bill, eat some broccoli.”
I studied the sodden lump of faded green on my plate. This Thanksgiving found me in my fourth year, and Mom included an unfamiliar vegetable in the feast. I knew and had a slight fondness for other produce. Onions and I were old friends, I kind of liked green beans. Cooked carrots were tolerable, especially when swimming in butter, and I loved corn, preferably on the cob. Broccoli, however, was unknown to me and it looked awful.
I lowered my partially-consumed drumstick. “I don’t like it.”
“How do you know? You haven’t even tasted it.”
“It doesn’t look good.”
Mom’s voice turned hard. “This is Thanksgiving and you have to try at least one little bite.”
I tasted a small morsel and recoiled. Unlike anything I’d ever eaten, I didn’t even want it near my mouth.
“I still don’t like it.”
Mom relaxed. At least I’d tasted it, and, if it didn’t appeal to me, she had no complaint. I spent the next 15 years rejecting that odd-looking variety of garden greenery until my girlfriend coaxed me into a nibble.
I chewed and my eyes opened wide. How on earth could I have never liked it before? All those years when I could have been eating broccoli? Wasted! I became a fanatic and gobbled up broccoli whenever I could, especially at Thanksgiving.
My younger daughter, Laura, loved it, too. And, on Thanksgiving when it was served with a rare cheese sauce, she was in seventh heaven.
This Thanksgiving, Laura sat next to her cousin, Anita, who held out a bowl of steaming broccoli. “Want some?”
“Mmm,” Laura said.
Anita looked puzzled. “I thought you liked broccoli.”
Laura’s face turned earnest. “I do. I said, ‘Mm-mmm,’” she replied and placed a healthy portion on her plate.
That’s my girl.
William R. Bartlett lives in Belton with his family.