America’s pretty churlish when it comes to Brussels sprouts, those leafy buds of wonder. It’s a frankly boring aversion that is wired so deeply and violently into America's gastronomic consciousness that it seems almost impossible to undo. “Little balls of hell,” John Waters once called them rather uncharitably.
But if someone can reverse this animus once and for all, that person might be Ina Garten.
Ah, Ina Garten. How could one possibly argue with the doyenne of American home cooking, the Barefoot Contessa herself? Garten has dictated American tastes for decades; when she speaks her dietary preferences aloud, it results in seismic shifts in the way America eats.
Mend your breakup with some turkey lasagna, she suggested on Today last week while everyone was busy celebrating Valentine’s Day. It's the gastronomic anthesis of the engagement chicken she’s so famously shilled. Now, I can't stop hearing about "breakup lasagna." Folks, it's everywhere.
Over the weekend, she posted a photograph of a pizza that honestly looks like a bed of freshly cut grass sitting atop a pie to her Instagram account. “OMG pizza Brussels sprouts cacio e pepe @martinapizzeria in NYC may be my favorite pizza ever!!” she captioned the image rather effusively.
As her caption suggests, it’s the Brussels sprouts cacio e pepe pizza served at Martina Pizzeria, the casual East Village eatery owned and operated by Danny Meyer and Nick Anderer. This is a pie lavished with Brussels sprouts, pecorino, and black pepper. Conspicuously absent on the pizza is anything resembling a tomato or a tomato derivative.
Martina Pizzeria did not respond to immediate request for comment on Tuesday regarding whether there’s been a surge in popularity in this pizza thanks to Garten’s seal of approval. The comments on her Instagram post, as comments tend to be on the grand old internet, are a minefield, with many expressing horror at the very concept of Brussels sprouts atop a pie.
“I like Brussels spouts [sic]…but on pizza?” one said. Yes, that's right. You heard her. Did she stutter? “OMGOODNESS NO!” another cried. Relax. “Ahhh, no,” another quietly screamed. My eyes just rolled out of my head. “I can’t decide if that sounds good or not," yet another ambivalent onlooker whined.
Honestly? How many times do I have to tell you that it's not your decision? Garten has spoken. With her endorsement, Brussels sprouts pizza will consume America—I, for one, and convinced—and you'll all just have to deal.