Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Our Year of Meat

If you're a vegan, vegetarian, or red meat/pork avoider, you may want to skip this post.

If you belong to one of the aforementioned dietary preference groups, decide not to skip this post, keep reading, and begin to feel the burning, bubbling stink of hate rising up in your gullet toward my fella and me, I ask that you bear with me, read to the end, and think fondly of us in some small way as you eat your lentils, ever-so-superiorly.

To get to the point: A & I have decided that 2008 is going to be our year of meat. We really do have a good reason, but I'll get to that in a sec. As a vegetarian who has leaned both on the vegan side and the fish side of the veg spectrum for the last 9 years, I can honestly say that meat of any kind has pretty much grossed me out for a majority of my adult life - mainly because of the book "Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating" by Erik Marcus. I read the book while I worked on an organic farm that produced beef and poultry - and while we were kind to the critters and crunchy crunchy with our ethics and whatnot, I still couldn't help feeling sorry for the lovely Wagyu cattle being raised to eventually end up on someone's dinner plate. So, when I actually left the flesh behind me, so to speak, I did so for ethical reasons, not because I didn't enjoy tearing into a yummy wagyu tenderloin. Cause I did. (I think I just felt a breeze from all the vegans reading this shuddering collectively.) My dear fella went along with my veggie-ness, mainly 'cause the men in his family tend to start having heart attacks in their 50s, and he wanted to do his part to protect his ticker. I'm guessing my screetching about the poor little cows and chickens probably didn't hurt either...

So, fast forward to 2007. Here we are, in lovely old 2007. Except for rare occasions (mainly involving chef friends not knowing our dietary preferences sending us extra courses of foie gras or beef carpaccio - in that case I'd rather politely eat what they send me than waste food and potentially offend against a kind gesture), nary a piece of meat has willingly passed my lips. When it does, I don't find the taste offensive or gross (with a couple of exceptions - cold foie gras and undercooked muscles are 2 textures I haven't quite gotten back to) - I'm just not interested.

Now, insert my 10th anniversary into the mix. Not dating anniversary, not total years together anniversary (cause that's 15), but wedding anniversary (thank you, thank you). So, to celebrate, A and I are going to Italy for a nice little wine tour. Nice to be married to a sommelier, yes it is... Anyway, when you think Italy and vegetarians, what do you think. I, for one think Pasta - which immediately makes me think of being doubled over in pain due to my FUCKING GLUTEN ALLERGY. Stupid, dumb, AWFUL glutens. Hate. Them. (insert spit-filled raspberry here). Thus, our year of meat.

I'm actually okay with the year of meat. I know that a title like that invokes some awful picture of someone stuffing as much meat as possible into their face at once (suppressing the urge to gag here, seriously). That's not what I'm thinking. BUT, to be realistic, it's not like I can just go to Italy, see that the only thing I can eat on a menu is meat, and have at it. I would probably get sicker than sick if I did that. Instead, I'm going to allow myself to eat meat when I feel like it for the next 9 months, and get my system ready for the trip. That way, I can actually enjoy myself, and not have to worry about being horribly physically uncomfortable, one way or the other, the whole time.

Here are the rules I'm thinking for my year of meat:

1) Bacon shall be the first meat I willingly eat in 2008, because bacon is delicious and I have dreamed about it often.
2) I will mainly eat fish if it is offered before I will eat red meat, pork or chicken (and please don't tell me why this is just as bad - when you have your own year of meat, you can do it the way you want to, k?)
3) I will not eat meat every day or certainly for every course, unless I am in Italy and faced with no other choice.
4) I will try unusual meaty things (let your mind be free on that one), because I didn't mind eating them before I went vegetarian, and likely will never have another year of meat again.
5) Upon returning from Italy, I shall become meat-free once more.

So yeah, please don't hate. I am very careful in my everyday life to be as organic and free-range and ethical with my culinary choices as possible, and think that a year of meat in a lifetime of otherwise very healthy living is not a bad thing.


John said...

I had three meats recently.

One in a lasagna that I didn't realize was meat lasagna, but was half way through eating - and then I had a second piece because the damage was already done and I liked the lasagna.

Two, a leftover piece of chicken tandoori that the kids didn't eat from our anniversary dinner that we got from our favorite Indian restaurant ever and I couldn't bear the thought of it going to waste because it's so delicious even if I don't eat meat.

Three, chicken and dumplings on Thanksgiving, a modest helping. It was a planet aligned thing - my gourmet mother-in-law cooking my most beloved sentimental dish that I hadn't eaten in 25 years, using not only a chicken from a farm that I knew, not only chicken from a farm with farmers that I personally knew, but pretty much a chicken I knew. Rare occasion, had some.

These things happen and there are rarely absolutes. Decaffeinated coffee has caffeine in it, but the amounts don't register with most people . . . many thing operate by this principle.

A year with some meat won't kill you. It's just bad for you if you horde it into your body like a son of a bitch and let it wrap its fatty fat self around your heart.

I did have a bitty bit of bacon a year ago . .. I was disappointed, actually.

Bram said...

Well, I hope you'll take the opportunity to seek out chocolate-covered bacon; I tipped a friend off about it, she's found it and tasted it, but I'm still trying to track it down.

And just discovered that essential cookbook author Mark Bittman has just released his vegetarian cookbook.

Bram said...

Then there's this book on living without gluten, by the woman behind the just-discovered Daily Coyote.