2666 Brussels sprouts

No, I didn’t buy 2,666 Brussels sprouts. What I did was read a book with 2,666 pages. Okay, not really. It was 898 pages and it was called 2666. I finished it a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know if any of you are familiar with it, but it consists of five parts that are only loosely related. The third is The Part about Fate (Fate being a person) and it contains a character named Barry Seaman, who delivers a long speech that contains a recipe for Brussels sprouts. You read that right. So I decided to make those Brussels sprouts!

Here is the original, direct from the book:

I see lots of fat people in this church, he said. I suspect few of you eat green vegetables. maybe now is the time for a recipe. The name of the recipe is: Brussels Sprouts with Lemon. Take note, please. Four servings calls for: two pounds of brussels sprouts, juice and zest of one lemon, one onion, one sprig of parsley, three tablespoons of butter, black pepper, and salt. You make it like so. One: Clean sprouts well and remove outer leaves. Finely chop onion and parsley. Two: In a pot of salted boiling water, cook sprouts for twenty minutes, or until tender. Then drain well and set aside. Three: Melt butter in frying pan and lightly saute onion, add zest and juice of lemon and salt and pepper to taste. Four: Add brussels sprouts, toss with sauce, reheat for a few minutes, sprinkle with parsley, and serve with lemon wedges on the side. So good you’ll be licking your fingers, said Seaman. No cholesterol, good for the liver, good for the blood pressure, very healthy.

Now, I don’t know where Seaman got the idea his recipe does not contain cholesterol, because it certainly does, unless by “butter” he meant “vegan margarine,” which I doubt. My interpretation, of course, is cholesterol-free! The only change I made was the margarine, and dried parsley since I didn’t have any fresh.

Barry Seaman’s Brussels Sprouts with Lemon

2 lbs Brussels sprouts, cleaned and trimmed
2-3 Tbsp vegan margarine
1 onion, minced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tsp dried parsley (or a sprig of fresh, minced)
salt and freshly ground pepper

Wash and trim those sprouts.

Bring a pot of water to a boil then add some salt and the sprouts. Cook until tender (15 to 20 minutes).

Meanwhile, zest …

… and juice the lemon.

And mince the onion.

When the sprouts are tender, drain and rinse under cool water to stop cooking.

In a large frying pan or a wok, heat the margarine …

… then add the onions and parsley and fry for 5 minute or until soft.

Stir in the lemon juice and zest, salt, and pepper.

The toss in the sprouts and cook just until heated through.

I’m sorry I forgot to include my lemon wedge because it brightened up the plate, but here’s the meal:

What do I think of the culinary prowess of Mr Seaman? It was an okay change of pace, but I prefer my roasted Brussels sprouts, and I suspect Mark does as well because he didn’t eat as many as usual. But I still thought it was fun to cook from a novel. I should pay more attention to food in the books I read and try to recreate some fictional meals. You don’t usually get a character telling you exactly how to make a dish but it would be fun to make things up.


  1. Zoé Said,

    July 23, 2009 @ 2:25 am

    Yeah! I never did any recipe from novels, but true they are thousands. Patricia Cornwell gives italian recipes in her novels but they are rarely without meat…so no way!
    You did a good job here!

  2. Jain Said,

    July 23, 2009 @ 4:54 am

    I’d probably prefer roasted, too, but they’re such a pretty green here. I really envy your very finely diced onion. I’m always sobbing before I get anywhere near that small a dice.

  3. Lisa Goldstein Kieda Said,

    July 23, 2009 @ 8:47 am

    I loved reading Ruth Reichl’s “Tender at the Bone” and “Comfort Me With Apples”. Diana Abu-Jaber’s “Crescent” and “Language of Baklava” are also great novels infused with food/cooking descriptions.

  4. Jes Said,

    July 23, 2009 @ 11:15 am

    I love the fictional meal! I have this book called “Kafka’s Soup” that I picked up at the Strand a few years back. It has recipes from Kakfa to Jane Austen to Shakespeare. I haven’t used it yet since many of the recipes are meat based, but it was just to cute to pass up.

  5. Maka Said,

    July 23, 2009 @ 3:23 pm

    There is a series of novels by Diane Mott Davison. The main character is Goldie. She is a caterer who is allways finds herself involved in some crime or another! As she is preparing her dishes she runs comintary on her prep AND she includes recipies! The books have cute names like Dyeing for Chocolate, Sticks and Scones! the recipies aren’t vegan but they can easily be adapted. Fun and entertaining!

  6. Josiane Said,

    July 25, 2009 @ 4:37 pm

    The sister of a friend of mine once made a lemon-blueberry something (can’t remember if it was a pudding, a pie, or what) after finding the recipe for it in a novel. Apparently, it was delicious. Too bad she couldn’t remember which book it was from!

  7. Josh Said,

    September 24, 2009 @ 3:32 am

    what a great idea! I was searching the net for info on 2666, having just read it and loooking for views on the vagaries of the novel, when I found this. It has made my day! I’m off to buy sprouts and have a go myself.

    I wish Seaman had detailed his recipe for endive and shrimp salad too. He doesn’t. But he does say… “Man cannot live on heathy food alone. You have to read books”.

  8. Peter Said,

    September 23, 2019 @ 12:04 pm

    Just made the Seaman’s Brussels Sprouts with Lemon!

    I sauteed onion almost 15 minutes so it got a bit golden and sweet. Better add the lemon zest in the very end. It dries out pretty quickly with onions.

    Result was delicious! I added some parmesan to bridge the spicy lemon and earthy Brussels sprouts.

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