Thursday, December 10, 2009

This is about food, not cooking. And me.

Sometimes, mostly when I'm not at home cooking for myself, I am torn between loving food and being afraid of it. Especially this time of year. With holiday parties, get togethers with friends and family, and mystery treats tempting me, it's easy for me to get lost and overwhelmed and want to step back, out of sight. I'm quick to shy away from my love of food and instead suggestthat food doesn't show love or tradition, and that eating is a necessity of life that could just as well be done in private, like bathing or sleeping.

I guess I'm still trying to figure out how to handle myself as an adult and deal with these basic human interactions. I recently read an article in the Vegetarian Times about how to deal with mixed lifestyles, and it advises to alert the host ahead of time and offer to bring a dish.

Seems simple enough, but when your host already knows that you are vegetarian and insists there will be plenty of food, what do you do when there's not? How do you enjoy yourself at a dinner party when your choices are one scoop of greasy macaroni and cheese, half a turkey carcass, and dessert? (I can tell you what not to do.) You can't fault the host, but maybe it would have been best to eat ahead of time. Certainly better than leaving early to grab food or getting tipsy from wine on an empty stomach. Yes, eat before the dinner party.

How about just meeting up with friends? So-and-so friend of a friend is going to choose a restaurant. You tell your friend that anything is okay as long as they have vegetarian options. No, actually, you tell your husband to ask his friend for the name of the restaurant so you can examine the menu ahead of time. Maybe even call them. Instead, he says not to worry about it (a line he uses on me multiple times a day). He tells me we can all discuss our options when we get there. We drive two hours to meet for dinner. Not only was everyone we were meeting still full from lunch, but the person choosing the restaurant didn't know -- hadn't been told -- that we needed a vegetarian option. And didn't give us a choice; we all went blindly along to the selected eatery. Thanks to cheese, the great meat substitute, I didn't go hungry, but that's the kind of thing I like to avoid whenever possible. Hey, if I'd followed the advice I'd learned the week before, I'd have eaten ahead of time and we could skipped the meal altogether.

Back to speaking of cheese, tonight I'm meeting some friends for dinner at a family-style Italian restaurant. I'm nervous. I have visions of cheese mountains (this is Cincinnati, after all) or fried eggplant. Am I being silly? I guess so. I just want to develop a way to deal with this so I can relax. When I read other vegan and vegetarian blogs, they seem to talk a lot about potlucks. Maybe that's the best direction for me, too.

1 comment:

  1. Meals at other people's houses are tough. My friend and my sister need gluten-free, I don't eat red meat, my stepdaughter is allergic to dairy, other are allergic to nuts... Trying to provide good options for everyone is really difficult.

    That said, I think it is irresponsible of a host not to provide a solid vegetarian dish. It's not like vegetarianism is so uncommon -- and making a hearty meat-free dish or two isn't all that hard. Also, everyone could benefit from some delicious fresh vegetable side dishes.

    For the restaurants -- can you ask to speak to the chef to prepare a special dish for you? My gluten-free friends do that all the time. I don't think there is anything wrong with you making the ask.

    Family-style - ugh! I hate family style. People always turn up their noses when I add a tofu dish to the family-style options at a Chinese restaurant. Italian - yep, you're stuck with lots of cheese and too much breading. Blech.