Sunday, October 02, 2005

Good news everyone! You don't have to eat meat. I made enough gazpacho for all! It's tomato soup served ice cold!

I would hate to seem like a whinging vegetarian; there are enough of them around. I don't eat meat, for my own reasons; but I don't preach it as a way of life or even know for sure what I think is right for people as a whole. I don't think of myself as a persecuted minority group like some vegetarians do.

Kam and I still often retell (to each other, if no-one else will listen) the story of a couple we met, friends-of-friends at a restaurant, years ago. They had only recently decided to become vegetarian. When the seafood platter came out, they went into raptures about how wonderful it looked and how awful it was that they couldn't have any. We both - me vego, Kam not-so - were amazed and annoyed at this. Just eat the damn seafood already, or shut up about it.

People often ask me if it's hard to get vegetarian food, generally, or in certain places. When we pick a restaurant for lunch, I'm always consulted - can you get anything there? I shrug off these concerns because I don't find it difficult. I'm used to having just a few choices, and actually get paralysed when faced with an all-vegetarian menu. I also don't mind at all if I have to resort to the side dish consisting of an enormous bowl of potatoes in some seasoned or beer-battered form. I've only really had trouble in more fancy restaurants. Generally, cheaper restaurants seem to have more choices on the menu overall. So the fancy place with only three entrees and five mains on the menu is very unlikely to have more than one vegetarian option. Sometimes it's not even on the menu, you have to ask specially. Also, some fancy places seem to exude an attitude of 'why are you bothering with our gourmet food if you won't eat meat?'

For last year's ski trip we spent a bit more than usual to stay in a lodge in Thredbo, instead of driving up from Jindabyne every day. The package included a hot breakfast every day (bliss) and two dinners. The lodge's restaurant was known as one of the finer dining establishments in Thredbo. I noticed when we first got there that there wasn't anything vegetarian on the rather short menu, so I mentioned it at the check-in desk. They asked if I could please let them know the day before if I was planning to dine there. I agreed but privately was pretty unimpressed. It's not that rare to be a vegetarian! Even if they don't have something on the menu, I do think any restaurant should have the capability to come up with something on the night. I guess there's no law that says they have to. I just don't think it should be that hard. It's not unusal for meat-eaters to order meals that don't contain meat, not for any particular reason but just as another option. It has become much more normal and acceptable.

Not so much in Poland. Before I went there, I made sure to learn how to say "I don't eat meat" in Polish. At least I think that's what I was saying... Family were willing to indulge me in this strange diet, but I think they most likely thought I wasn't allowed to eat meat. When we went to a wedding, my cousin said, "Surely you can, just this once." It was difficult, through the language barrier, to explain that I didn't actually want to! But they goodnaturedly kept on piling up my plate with potatoes and salad, and mostly (some aunts better than others) remembered to leave the chicken bones out of the soup, with much urging from my Grandma.

1 comment:

louise said...

Ah the travelling vegetarian. No, really I'm quite happy with just rice and a little chilli, thankyou I really don't want some of that pig's head.
And the travelling vegetarian with allergies. In those wierd exotic European places where they eat bread, cheese and meat for breakfast and lunch. Hmm I'll have um water? Maybe I won't have such a big reaction to wheat today? Gotto eat something.