Tuesday, September 17, 2013

worst vegetarian ever

when i was very young, my mom would fly across the country with me and bring "yummy snacks" to keep me happy. according to family lore, these snacks were raw carrot sticks and broccoli stalks. mmmmm. YUM-O. she wasn't a crazy health nut or anything - i definitely remember her baking lots of sweet treats and making a mean velveeta-bean dip. but i also remember her putting wheat germ in her pancakes and weird things like fennel seed in her pizza dough and instead of bologna sandwiches with kraft singles on wonder bread, my lunches were packed with pita pockets stuffed with alfalfa sprouts. that actually doesn't sound half bad now, but believe you me, that shit's worth diddly-squat in the cut-throat currency of the elementary school lunchbox black market.

i remember i wasn't even allowed to have honey nut cheerios. only plain ones, or probably something worse from the food co-op, like spelty-Os. i remember sometimes i would spend the night at my grandma's house and before bed she and i would each have a bowl of raisin bran and wooooeeeee did i think that was somethin' special. bran flakes and california raisins. partay! once my mom went on a business trip and i somehow convinced my father to buy me a box of lucky charms. (reminds me of this one time at my local coffee shop where a dad and his 3 year old daughter were eating enormous chocolate chip cookies at 7am and the dad was like, "don't tell your mother this is what you had for breakfast." ha!) it was like winning the lottery. i probably ate half the box, bounced off the walls for a while, and spent the next 24 hours in a sugar coma, but whatever. it was worth it. i STILL love lucky charms. there will always be a special place in my heart for stale marshmallows of any kind. post-easter clearance peeps, i'm lookin' at you.

if my mom's healthy eating habits had stuck, that would have been great, but even she had given up by the time my little brother rolled onto the scene eleven years later. it may have had something to do with the fact that he was allergic to milk, eggs, and beef.... that or she had just given up by then. little man stuffed marshmallows into his mouth straight from the bag, and had lucky charms for breakfast every day. i believe he subsisted solely on lucky charms without milk and chicken taquitos for the first five years of his life. perhaps if moms had stuck to her guns, i would have carried her good intentions into my own adult life, but actually, the opposite occurred, and i secretly blame the alfalfa sprouts. i think being deprived of sugar for the first half of my childhood instilled an insatiable craving for sweets and salts* and gave me an emotional allergy to vegetables. (*the salt habit is definitely her fault. before she and my dad divorced, she would drive my paternal grandparents crazy because she would put salt on all the food they cooked before she even tried it. she called it "just-in-case salt." makes sense to me!)

vegetables had already left their scar on my soul by the tender age of ... whatever age you are in third grade. 8? 9? anyway, that year, i won the illustrious st. philomene's "wings of the dove" writing contest for a short story called "vegetable face," in which a young girl named endive was repeatedly scolded for not eating her vegetables. finally, she succumbed to parental pressure and wouldn't you know it, she woke up the next morning and her face had been transformed into the very vegetables her mother had forced her to eat. that'll teach you, mom!

food art by alex j. jefferies.
this is f*cking terrifying.
going to go have some nightmares now.
so, as you can see, vegetables and i have a tortured history. despite our challenges, however, i decided to become a vegetarian in 8th grade. this was partly because i was 13 and wanted to save all of the animals and also the planet, and partly because my little sister reveled in my reaction when she would openly discuss the furry, cuddly, doe-eyed sources of our meals. "mom, bacon's made out of pigs, right? little piggies are delicious!" "mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb." "mmmm. hamburger. too bad this tastes so good because cows are cute." "do they really use horse hooves to make jello? my little ponayyyyy."

but i actually don't miss meat at all. once when i was pregnant i thought i had a craving for a tuna fish sandwich (i remember my grandma's being SO GOOD!) but you're not supposed to have tuna anyway, so i didn't act on it. then i recently smelled one and was like, wtf, that's disgusting, why on earth would anyone want to eat anything that smelled like that? so yeah, getting rid of the animal-y type things wasn't hard. i could probably even get rid of eggs if i had to. they skeeve me out 78% of the time anyway. but there is just one small snag in my life plan as a vegetarian.

i don't like vegetables.

okay actually this is not entirely true. my friends and family like to say this as a hilarious joke every single time we share a meal but i actually DO like vegetables. some of them. just not the ones that vegetarians are supposed to like, like portobello mushrooms (um, slimy zombie flesh?) and eggplant (in the words of Jason Good, "hey, can I get a tiny purple pumpkin in the shape of human kidney that tastes like dirt?" thanks but i think i'll pass!) and when we go out to a nice dinner and all they have for vegetarians is "pasta primavera," or god forbid a "roasted vegetable platter," i literally want to cry. i mean, seriously? not even some cheesy mashed potatoes or panko-crusted mac & cheese or a deep fried vegetable? help a sistah out!

here is a list of the vegetables that i actually like:

slightly overcooked broccoli, lima beans, carrots, and peas. fresh cucumbers. avocado obviously (oh wait is that a fruit?). and i actually still weirdly like peeled raw broccoli stalks. asparagus - like the top 1.5 inches. corn (but DO NOT put that shit right on the grill, i beg you. i'm not even stressing about the residual animal flesh, it just tastes like charred ass that way). bell peppers. banana peppers. jalapenos! green beans. crunchy lettuce that is completely covered in dressing. jicama (ditto on the dressing). black eyed peas, when evenly dispersed in a delicious persian rice dish. edamame with a shit ton of salt or that delicious 7 spice from world market. most any manner of potato (including sweet potatoes and, obviously, french fries, though strangely i do not love potato chips - except those salt & pepper kettle chips a.k.a. "heart attack crack," mmmmmm. yes. now that is my kind of "vegetable." :)) sugar snap peas. pickled beets. radishes. sprouts (when sandwiched by bread and cheese and mayonnaise). lentils, when made into a soup with so much sodium it could kill a lab rat. most all beans but black beans are my least favorite and unfortunately those are usually the only ones not made with the juices of swine or fowl. wait. i'm getting into legume territory. does that even count?

vegetables that i will eat without too much fuss:

raw carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, snow peas, zucchini or similarly shaped squash. pumpkin or butternut squash if made into soup that consists of 4/5 cream and 1/5 salt. onions when they are cooked in some other sort of deliciousness. spinach. tomatoes walk a very fine line. i like super salty tomato soup as a dipping sauce for grilled cheese. does that count? i will eat tiny diced tomatoes in a salad. i think i have had three delicious tomatoes in my life so the odds are not in their favor. sometimes i forget i don't really like tomatoes thought and i get them on sandwiches and i inevitably end up with sliced tomato carcasses on my plate. or i give them to my friend :) also aren't they technically fruits anyway? sneaky bastards. also not a huge fan of arugula. tastes like bitter weeds. pretty sure it's not actually meant for human consumption, it was just some genius marketing coup following a bad lettuce crop one year.

vegetables i WILL NOT TOLERATE:

eggplant and any kind of mushroom - ESPECIALLY PORTOBELLOS. blarf. brussel sprouts. nope. get them out of my face right now. spaghetti squash. IT LOOKS LIKE WORMS.

the end.

oh yeah also i love cheese and bread more than i love my children sometimes so that, too, is an impediment to a healthy and balanced vegetarian diet. sure, i don't mind certain vegetables but i will choose cheese and bread over your goddamn pasta primavera every. single. time.

ps, before anyone freaks out at me, i make one or more vegetables for dinner (almost) every night. usually i make things i don't hate. sometimes i even make things i don't really like and i pretend i'm eating dinner with the president of the united states and i'm not going to tell him that i'd rather die than eat a portobello mushroom mushrooms aren't my favorite so i have to act like mmmmm, yes, this is deeeelicious! i also cook meat for my dear husband and children, even though i don't eat it. side note. cooking chicken. i don't get it. am i the only one who feels the need to burn down my entire kitchen after handling raw chicken in order to stave off the next major salmonella outbreak? sick. it actually works out alright since i usually almost burn down my kitchen every time i cook anyway.

just discovered this blogger lady, jj keith. obsessed.
also, check out her pinterest board,
"mother fucking homemaking." killing it.

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