brussels sprouts

i know all too well why european hotels advertise an amenity that americans take for granted. listed right up there with "air conditioning", at the top of the travel guide entry, the second or third bullet point exclaims: "we have a lift"!  it's not called an "elevator" because it's really more of a dumb waiter that's better suited to send dishes back and forth from the kitchen to the dining room than to transport people up and down multiple stories of a building. and if you have to squeeze into the lift with a stranger then you will spend the next few uncomfortable minutes attempting to avoid touching each other on the silent ride upward.
          as a 40–something-spoiled-american entering the charming row-house of a "holiday efficiency" to discover no lift, i will never-ever book a vacation rental again without the assurance that it has the convenience to lift us up to our studio. when that happened on a trip to london with jim, i found that chivalry is not dead because my gallant husband insisted on carrying both of our bags up a narrow-twisty-steep stairway after flying most of the previous afternoon and night, then lugging them onto the train for the trip into victoria station, switching to the tube, and climbing to the street at kensington high street. the up side was that we had a good view of hyde park from our new home at the top of the house.
on that first day in london, after hot showers and a long nap we needed to buy groceries. "let's make a list so we only have to climb the stairs once" jim said . . . there, that is a fine example of why i call my knight, sir sarcastic. we went to the market we passed on the way in from the tube, and found a bin of brussels sprouts as big as brussels. i have never seen so many brussels sprouts and had no idea that the british serve a traditional "veg" of the little cabbages and chestnuts for christmas dinner. it was no where near holiday season but still the featured vegetable at the market was brussels sprouts. that night and most of the other nights that week, the star veg for dinner was a fresh bag of knobby sprouts that we brought back with us on our one daily climb up the stairs.
i almost always cut brussels spouts in half vertically to show off their vibrant contrasts of grassy-greens.
the british serve a traditional "veg" of brussels sprouts and chestnuts for christmas dinner. i simply steam them and serve them with a sprinkle of pear balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

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