Dinner with My Daughter Revealed the Difference Between Us
I am a horrible eater. Of course, if you looked at me, you’d say, “Al, you seem to have this eating thing down pat”. By being a horrible eater, I mean that I never eat the right things. Vegetables are not my friends; we’ve barely been introduced. This was a burden on my mother, who was a wonderful cook, but I never appreciated what she put before us. Of course, as a child, when forced to stare down breaded escarole, I cannot be the first one to blink. How many hours did I sit at the kitchen table while the rest of the family enjoyed their evening, this monstrosity before me. My mother stated plainly that I would not leave that table until I finished it. The plans to the Normandy invasion would not have been safe in my hands if the Germans simply said, “you know, we’ll take that away, just tell us when and where”.
A few years ago, I did get a bit better. Cut out bread and pizza, which was the main staple of my daily diet, and introduced a few vegetables. A tenuous relationship at best, we barely tolerated each other’s existence.
One thing would never change. I would never give up eating meat.
In this day and age, that is a horrible thing to say. Growing up, the caricature of a vegetarian was the hippie. Peace, love, and eating meat is murder. Now, there are vegetarians around every corner. In my foolishness, I thought vegetarians just didn’t eat meat. I was wrong. Some eat plant-based foods, and dairy, but no meat, fish, poultry. Others have dairy, but no eggs. Then there is eggs, but no dairy. There are partial vegetarians that eat dairy, eggs, little fish and poultry, but no meat.
Can I get fries with that? Probably not.
I have one requirement. My food once had parents, and a face.
When my kids were young, it was all very simple – they ate what we put in front of them. No moral dilemmas, a happy meal was – happy.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with people that want to be vegans, who don’t want to eat meat or any combination mentioned above. Good for them, they are probably better people than I am. Stronger, healthier than me. Just don’t make me feel guilty if I sink my teeth in a sirloin; can’t we all just get along?
Recently, my daughter, Amanda, who lives in North Carolina, was home in Jersey for a few days. As always, when she finds herself back in New Jersey, I like to spend as much time with her as I can. Of course, when she’s back in Jersey she has already made plans to do a hundred different things in the short span that she is here. Fortunately, we were able to grab dinner together one night. She requested we go to Whole Foods, because they have a buffet that she likes.
I had never been to Whole Foods before, but they had just built one not far from me, so I met her there with her mom, and her mom’s boyfriend.
In case you haven’t figured it out, my daughter is one of the vegans (or Lacto-ovo-vegetarians or Lacto-vegetarians or Ovo-vegetarians or Pesco-vegetarians or Semi-vegetarians or partial vegetarians) I mentioned above.
After searching the aisles for a bit, I asked my daughter where the diet coke was.
“Oh, they don’t sell that here,” she informed me, “only stuff that is good for you”.
Really? The store is going to tell me what I can and can’t ingest?
We moved through buffet aisles, I looked strictly for anything that adhered to my rule. My daughter piled odd colored food, and tofu (lots and lots of tofu), on top of each other. I found barbecue chicken breast, pork loin, and meatballs. A few non-meat items (must maintain a balance diet) which included some sort of knish and lots of potatoes. Potatoes didn’t have parents, but they did have eyes, so that fell under my purview.
As I carried my dinner to the check-out, encased in the ecofriendly brown container provided by the store (no plates available - ever), I was happy that I found enough food in this new-age utopia to satisfy my appetite.
The four of us sat down, each with our own bizarre collection of food. I was happy, no judgment here, I made it through enemy territory, and was about to enjoy the spoils of my victory.
“You know,” Amanda said as I speared one of the meatballs and aimed it toward my mouth, “that those are meatless meatballs, right?”
Well played, you bastards, well played.