Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chapter 9: The Meat I Eat

Over the course of the last year or so, my life has undergone some dramatic changes. As a reaction to this upheaval, I made a decision to "try new things," since the way I was doing things didn't seem to be working. One of those things is to taste meats I may not have been exposed to before I became vegetarian in 1995. Additionally, eating meat here and there serves as a bit of an internal "F-you" to an ex-husband who promised in our marriage vows to always cook me vegetarian food.

I grew up in a meat-and-potatoes kind of family, in which Chinese food meant Green Giant frozen stir fry mix. Not to knock my mom's cooking, but there are only so many times you can have turkey tetrazzini in one lifetime. So in a way, vegetarianism opened up doors to new foods like chick peas, brussels sprouts, tofu, quinoa, etc. Born out of the necessity to eat a well-balanced diet, I was able to discover a whole new world of foods available to me.

Now, I live in one of the most amazing culinary cities in the world, so why limit myself from the experiene of trying even more new things? I was inspired by Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain who are known for traveling the world trying bizarre and exotic foods. My revised life view makes me think of the scene in Chasing Amy, in which Alyssa describes her justification of dating a man after many years of lesbianism:

Alyssa: You know, I didn't just heed what I was taught, men and women should be together, it's the natural way, that kind of thing. I'm not with you because of what family, society, life tried to instill in me from day one. The way the world is, how seldom it is that you meet that one person who just *gets* you - it's so rare. My parents didn't really have it. There were no examples set for me in the world of male-female relationships. And to cut oneself off from finding that person, to immediately halve your options by eliminating the possibility of finding that one person within your own gender, that just seemed stupid to me. So I didn't. But then you came along. You, the one least likely. I mean, you were a guy.

Holden: Still am.

Alyssa: And while I was falling for you I put a ceiling on that, because you *were* a guy. Until I remembered why I opened the door to women in the first place: to not limit the likelihood of finding that one person who'd complement me so completely. So here we are. I was thorough when I looked for you. And I feel justified lying in your arms, 'cause I got here on my own terms, and I have no question there was some place I didn't look. And for me that makes all the difference.

Holden: [pause] Well, can I at least tell people all you needed was some serious deep dicking?

So, much like Alyssa, I am justifying eating a little meat now and again because I got here on my own terms. I generally just try one little bite of anything, so don't feel like I have turned my back on my convictions entirely

Below is a list of meats I have intentionally eaten since becoming vegetarian.

  • French Onion Soup, Paris, Summer 1999
  • Caviar, I forget when & where
  • A mussel & grilled octopus, Las Ramblas, NYC, 9/2?/2008

  • Snowfish, crab and shrimp, Beijing, 12/8/2008
  • Duck feet, tongue, sausage,
    Abalone, sea cucumber,
    Shark fin soup, pate, fish cake
    Peking Duck
    Duck heart, giant prawn, Beijing, 12/8/2008
  • Fish eyeball, Lan Club, Beijing, 12/11/08
  • Cocoa rubbed ostrich, filet mignon, black pepper seared tuna, Meritage, Boston, 3/7/2009
  • Chicken fried steak, Marfa, NYC, 3/19/2009
  • Frog legs, Tia Pol, NYC, 3/21/09
  • Duck ham panini, Terroir, NYC 4/7/09
  • Wagyu beef nachos,
    fried oysters, and chicken wings with white BBQ sauce, Craftsteak, NYC 4/16/09
  • Frog Legs, Las Ramblas, NYC, 4/30/2008
  • Tuna & Salmon roll (with asparagus & mushroom), Sushi Samba, NYC, 5/14/09Photobucket
  • Tuna Tartare, Opia, NYC, 5/20/09
  • Bacon and Blue Cheese Butter, 10th and Willow, Hoboken, NJ, 5/22/09

So how did I enjoy all these exotic meats? I thought the octopus to be ok, but basically tasted like smoked gouda. This one "shrimp" thing I had in China was actually quite nice & buttery, but they weren't able to translate what it was into English, so I suppose I'll never know. And surprisingly, I didn't mind the duck heart one bit! The ostrich had a good texture, it melted in your mouth. The filet mignon (the very same dish that turned me vegetarian almost 15 years ago, upon realizing that the meat was actually flesh, and the red juices, blood) was not at all appealing, seemingly sinewy when served alongside the tender ostrich. Just goes to show my tastes haven't changed all the much! I didn't enjoy the sushi very much, it was mushy and a little flavorless. Nothing I have tried has converted me back to being a full-fledged omnivore, but it has made for some fun dinners. And no, none of it has made me sick. I don't think I have consumed a big enough serving of meat in one go to upset my generally strong stomach.

In an ideal world, I'd have a little farm and raise my own chickens for eggs or even meat, and goats for cheese, etc. etc. I feel if I could raise and slaughter my own meat, I could better justify eating it. But that's a little difficult in a one-bedroom New York City apartment. So until then, I may as well explore! However, I did not go so far as to try this, in Beijing's night market:

P.S. Holden's last line in the above quote makes me laugh, because I have always thought of Dead Eye Dick's New Age Girl (Mary Moon) as a classic (albeit tongue in cheek) vegetarian theme song. I'll let you draw your own correlations between the needs of vegetarians and lesbians. But in case you were wondering, studies show vegetarians have better sex! (this link NSFW)

1 comment:

Dan Katz said...

I declare gray-box victory.