“Since when are you a vegetarian?”

Since March, I have been asked the above question more often than I can keep track of.  There was a point in my life when my mantra was “I could NEVER ever stop eating meat.”  It’s not that I was a ravenous carnivore ripping strip steaks to shreds with my teeth, but I did enjoy my mom’s chicken wings and the honking turkey dagwoods we constructed post-Thanksgiving.  Family favorites like cubanos and corned beef sandwiches for St. Patty’s day as well as Italian prosciutto crudo were some of my favorite savory dishes.  I think I had prosciutto once a day while I was abroad in Italy.  I could eat the meat on anything:  with a cracker, on a pizza, in salad, rolled-up, with melon, in a dessert.  Given the opportunity, I probably would have eaten prosciutto-flavored gelato.

I decided to stop eating meat in an effort to control the random times my face decided to swell up and leave my face looking awkwardly asymmetrical.  I had no idea if this was going to work or not, but at the very least it would be a cleansing exercise.  Katelyn had given up meat for Lent to feel healthier (I gave up sweets), so I joined her in a meatless endeavor about two weeks before Easter.

I thought I was going to begin eating meat again after spring break, but I found that I did not really miss it and continued to be veggie.  It helped that I had friends Faye and Hillary around for vegetarian support.  Luckily, Dickinson provided fresh produce in the main cafeteria from both the college farm and local farms in central Pennsylvania, so I was able to avoid the mystery meat on the grill in the caf.

Five months later, I find myself living California and embracing the green lifestyle of doing yoga and recyclable grocery bags and eating a ton of veggies.  Not that I didn’t or couldn’t do this on the east coast, but west coasters seem to be a bit more in tune with being healthy all around.  I could get used to this.

I am starting to blog with the intention of documenting the culinary adventures of a new(ish) vegetarian.  That might include a dish I eat at a restaurant, something I cook, a bad-ass recipe I come across, or a single ingredient about which I have a lot to say.  Although I consider myself relatively healthy, I have a rather large sweet tooth so I will probably post about dessert from time to time :).

I’ll leave you with an anecdote explaining the title of my blog:

My sisters, mom, and I traveled to Jacksonville, Florida over spring break to see some family.  My mom, grandfather, and I went to the grocery store to get some staples for the week, as we were staying in our grandfather’s condo in St. Augustine.  My mom was running around the market while my grandfather and I stood in the middle of the store with the cart.  He looked down at cart abundant with a spectrum of fruits and vegetables not unusual for us.  Taken with the amount of produce in the trolley, he then turned to me and said, “Kels, I wasn’t put at the top of the food chain to eat grass.”  I didn’t say anything to him, just chuckled to myself and nodded silently.

Well, Nagypapa, sorry to break it to you, but I choose to eat grass.


2 thoughts on ““Since when are you a vegetarian?”

  1. Kathryn Taylor says:

    Kels, Across oceans of time and distance remember Nagypapa was a “war-child”….He grew up in a household where there was no waste and food was prepared to stretch and feed his family of 8, and then some. There were soups, breads, sausages and little veggies simply because there weren’t many. The veggies they had were made into soups, and salads were pickled to preserve rations. Winters were cold and long and there was no telling the outcome of the war. Every inch of a pig or chicken was used not just for the luxury of the meat but for the lard used in cooking and baking, as well as intestines and bones that were used for delicacies we don’t need to mention. You have witnessed the “treat” these recipes are to many family members simply because they mean comfort & survival & home.
    The world and culture has shifted, and as you know we have more than we need. Being vegetarian is a luxury for us because we have access to limitless culinary treats. We have endless recipes, spices, herbs and the means to experiment with all of them in a warm comfortable, well-stocked kitchen. Kudos to your venture, I am proud to know you, as Namu said…..but remember your passion and love for the kitchen and food stems directly from my Nagymama, Kisci, Zsuzsi, Teca and Ica…”a little of this, a little of that, not too little, not too much, not too warm, not too cold, a few eggs, maybe 1 or 2, and a couple yolks but not too many…”.
    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go put on my bathing suit so I can cook.

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