Friday, June 15, 2007

One of Five

During that lengthy episode a few months ago when I lost my access to blogger, I began compiling a long list of topics to write about. Unfortunately, that list has continued to grow even though my access has since been restored. I guess this is one of those instances where my excessive list-making has backfired into creating a sense of dread versus a feeling of potential accomplishment. So it was that I found myself needing a good swift kick in the writer's block. Our friend Liz over at Los Angelista offered the following meme to get me started and to help you learn a bit more about me. The problem is that when you take your finger out of the proverbial dike, well, the water just flows. I've decided to break these five questions into multiple posts so as not to risk losing your interest after the first one anyway.

Question 1) What made you decide to become a vegetarian?

My entire pre-adult life was spent rejecting food, particularly vegetables, which was a real shame because I come from several generations of excellent cooks. My maternal grandmother was from Scotland, and while the country isn't really known for it's cuisine, Grandma Kate was a solid cook and a wonderful baker. When my mother and aunt grew to school-age, she got a job working in a public school cafeteria of Detroit, Michigan. This was in the forties when kids got fresh-baked rolls and home-made cake with their school lunches. Several of our family’s favorite desserts come in the forms of Scottish Shortbread and Empire Biscuits (which aren't really biscuits at all, but rather sugar cookie sandwiches with a thin layer of jam in between the wafers and topped with powdered sugar frosting).

My mother took that foundation a step further and always graced our table with delicious food. I wouldn't say she was an overly fancy cook, but we regularly had more than just your standard fare: chicken parmigiana, cream of chicken on puff pastry shells, melt-in-your-mouth roast beef, pineapple upside down cake, and whipped cream cake are some of my favorites. My mother's Thanksgiving feasts turned the day into my favorite holiday, so much so that I begged for roasted turkey again on Christmas Day.

It is with regret that I look back on my childhood and realize that, for all of the wonderful food I was served, I missed out on so much of it. I refused to eat any vegetables with the exception of corn and potatoes. The color green never graced my plate unless it was in the form of jello. Nevertheless, I took great pride in helping my mother bake and cook and she shipped me off to college with better than average skills in the kitchen.

While sitting down to a tuna fish sandwich in my first college apartment, I suddenly made the connection between the meat that I was about to eat and the animal that it once was. My decision not to eat meat, I think in part, was a psychic shift that resulted from being newly responsible for making my own food choices. The other part of my decision was due to an immersion in a community of 30,000 students and being newly exposed to a myriad of lifestyles and personal philosophies. And so I stopped eating meat altogether.

Over the course of the next 15 years, I embarked on the culinary answer to the question, “But what will you eat?” I was fortunate to meet several great chefs that while not vegetarian, made smart choices about food and held a deep appreciation for vegetarian and ethnic cuisine. I learned about Greens Restaurant, Annie Sommerville, Deborah Madison, and the Moosewood Collective. I learned to love my vegetables. And beans. And tofu. Most importantly, I learned to pay attention to where my food comes from and how it was treated before it reaches my plate.

I do eat some meat now, but I do so with a great deal of mindfulness. To the best of my abilities, I make sure that my food doesn’t travel too far and that any animals I eat had a comfortable life. I say a quiet prayer of thanks. I try to bring others to my table to share in the reverence of the meal because my personal philosophy is to give thanks by feeding others.

More to come:

Question 2) If you were invisible for one whole day, what would you do?
Question 3) What is your favorite memory from your wedding day?
Question 4) A distant relative leaves you a sizable inheritance. What are you going to splurge on?
Question 5) If someone made a movie about your life, who would you want to play you?

If you have a blog and would like to participate in this meme/questionaire:

1) Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2) I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions!
3) Update your blog with the answers to your questions.
4) Include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5) When others comment asking to be interviewed, present them with five questions.


Sheila Martin said...

A very interesting beginning. i look forward to more answers

Liz said...

I'm so glad you decided to break the answers to these up into separate posts. I love all the things you told about in this answer and if you'd been worried about length, perhaps you'd left out about the Empire biscuits and all the other fascinating details. Are you named after your grandmother?