Thursday, November 22, 2012

Vegetarians, Anchovies and Other Fairly Odd Creatures...

I like spending time visiting with my son and daughter. We sometimes get together and gab over lunch. This requires that the menu have some form of meatless offering. They are indeed vegetarians.

I don't remember the precise moment of my daughter's decision. Perhaps it wasn't a conscious choice and she was born with this preference. When she was about three, "the girl" as I fondly call her, used to avoid and sometimes hide meat in the far recesses of her mouth. One day, we came home after enjoying a fine meal at grandma and grandpa's. At bedtime, I noticed an odd looking bulge on her cheek. I asked her to say "ahhhh" while I removed a wad of what appeared to be chicken from inside her jaw. It had been there for several hours. Jokingly, I asked her if she was pretending to be a chipmunk. She answered, "No, I'm just saving it".

Around the age of 12, "the girl" announced that she was now a vegetarian. At first, her pubescent decision did not include the anchovies on her Caesar salad, because as she said "obviously, anchovies are vegetables." Apparently, as long as our human brains are not developed enough to have a clear mental image to accompany some words, those words can be whatever we decide to make them. Even at my mature age, I still have no idea what an anchovy actually looks like, although I am comfortable with the fact that it's some kind of salty little fish whose existence on earth is essential for use in fine dining establishments and all pizza parlours. After all, how else could people order their pizza without anchovies?

Some time later, I heard the criteria for vegetarianism. It involved giggling and guffawing, spitting and chortling. Although he denied it, this was probably the original reason my son, "the boy" joined "the girl" in her choice.

Apparently, in order to be a vegetarian, one needs to follow the two "F's" of vegetarianism.

Their greatest pleasure was derived when a forgetful grandpa would ask why they weren't eating some of their Mennonite grandma's wonderful cooking, specifically the capon. "Grandpa, we don't eat things that have a face or fart", they'd repeat in unison. Then, as always, they'd laugh and laugh at grandpa's expression of shock as if he'd heard this for the first time.

Accommodating the grass eaters was more than a little challenging. As a single parent, I already had enough on my plate so to speak and sometimes, we didn't have nearly enough on our plates. I wanted to ensure that they were properly nourished so I sought out meals that were quick and would take care of their basic needs. Kraft dinner and a side of vegetables became a staple. Omelettes, cauliflower pancakes, pizza without anchovies and beans were easy choices. Fortunately, the teens hadn't become vegan extremists.

I turned into the queen of tofu. I often made tofu chili, tofu tacos, tofu shepherd's pie, tofu tortes and tofu tarts. It's amazing what you can create with that brown tofu ground round.

Eventually, as they became older and reached their bottomless pit years, I gave up cooking and let them fend for themselves. They seemed fine with a freezer full of tv dinners and veggie wieners and a cupboard containing vats of peanut butter, assorted breads, nuts, snacks and plenty of vitamins.

Thanksgiving meals included Tofurkey. Costly, odd, but manageable once in awhile. In more recent years, I've been making their favourite tofu tourti√®re instead. I even found a way to amuse myself when creating the upper pie crust. The truth is, I take evil joy in doing this, kind of my pathetic effort at exacting some form of revenge or making a statement of my own.

So what is it that I do? I always fashion a small turkey from the leftover dough and plunk it smack dab into the centre of their tofu meat pie, making certain that it has a cute little face.

***Author note - Some of this may be exaggerated for effect. The youngin's version of why they became vegetarians is because they saw a documentary on t.v. about chicken farming. Same result. Oddly enough, my daughter has recently taken to eating fish once again. Do fish not satisfy the double F criteria?

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