Monday, December 28, 2009

If Fish Were Cute, I Would Be a Vegetarian. Part II.

If Fish Were Cute, I Would Be a Vegetarian. Part II.

If you think about it, how we eat is usually loaded with a political overtone. Many times it is overt and laced with politics. For example, I choose to eat Artic Char because it is sustainable. Sometimes it is bad marketing. I do not order Patagonian Toothfish; with such a disgusting name who knows what the dish will look like. Other times, I vote with my stomach, I like Chilean Seabass because it is buttery and delectable. But what I mean by political nature is that only in developed countries do we have such luxury. I partially blame Top Chef and the Food Network. I feel that many people think of themselves as Daniel Boulud when they go to Ihop. For example in my book club there was actually this heinous woman who actually complained about the lack of Diet Sprite. She then picked at every food item saying that she could not eat the lasagna because it contained sausage. Taking the bait, another member asked her if she was a vegetarian. She acted the way I would if someone asked me if my shoes are Kenneth Cole. “No,” she scoffed, “I am a pescatarian.”

For those confused, pescatarians are like vegetarians – but they eat seafood. They are the culinary equivalent of agnostics. I am sure many came to their decision with “I hedge because I need protein.” Excluding the Jezebel at Church, I know three pescatarians. And of the three, one does not regularly bludgeon me with the importance of choosing shrimp matter over the bovine variety. We shall call this acceptable pescatarian “Fibromyalgia” (once again for fears of libel, and, well he speaks about lawsuits more than me). But like the vegan from the party in Part I, the pescatarian, even the much-loved “Fibromyalgia” often talks about the gospel of their diet. One ranted about the perceived smaller carbon footprint in consuming salmon than bacon (wild salmon, not farmed because the latter variety is unsustainable). FN1. Another talked about the dangers and evils of poultry farms. A few months ago, my brother informed of the actual evils from shrimp hatcheries. All I can conclude is that I am skipping the “all you can eat shrimp special” at Red Lobster.

What is the need to proselytize about one’s diet? Not going to lie. I do it. In fact I am going to beat you Dear Reader to the punch. I stipulate, I am a pretty picky bastard while eating. I am not picky with food per se, just technique. For example, I lifted my nose at a hollandaise that resembled a custard more than a sauce. It would be easy to deflect all criticism by stating that my parents/grandparents cultivated my palate – they too are critical with their proverbial chopsticks. But I find my defense to be unavailing because I have one particular cousin who eats everything and never complains about broken bĂ©arnaise. I conclude that my feelings regarding technique is another form of politics. As the true Iron Chef opens “I am what I eat.”

Occasionally, I do vote with my stomach, I hate beans. This hatred of legumes can often play out in the chessboard that is life. Ordering an appetizer is often a “move”.
And even on my date Thursday, I tried to appear as amiable, charming, and well adjusted as I could feign, I had to assert “I hate beans.” It was a loaded comment really. A challenge. Like the Invasion of Poland, it was a declaration. If you dare order hummus as an appetizer, I will be leaving before dessert. Now this might not be the best example, because he did. There was a countermove, it was like he was saying “If you object, there will be no sugar with coffee afterwards.” I relented, I ate the mishmash of tahini and chickpea. It was another form of the politics with food. Like the vegan who objected to the ham salad, the cunt whom complained about the lack of Diet Sprite, and Fibromyalgia whom I can never take to Ruth Chris, the little skirmish over beans was political. Every time we order a menu, it is like reading Machiavelli. FN 2.

FN 1. I am quite surprised that this particular vegan could make such an assertion because it is normally outside the subject’s intellectual capacities.

FN 2. For those curious, I am glad I lost the Battle of the Chickpea

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