Friday, June 15, 2007

Hello, I'm an open book

I had no idea my insecurities about moving back to Meat City were so apparent in my last post, but you guys saw right through me. I really appreciate the supportive comments. I can't reply to all of them individually, so I'll respond here.

What is poutine?
Poutine -- traditionally fries, fresh (squeaky) cheese curds, and sauce/gravy -- is a fast-food specialty in Quebec. It's been called a heart attack on a plate. Here's a site that explains the dish's sketchy history.

Does Bill eat meat?
Yes, and he also does a lot of the cooking. (He enjoys cooking, I don't.) He never pressured me, but he's very happy about my decision.

May I recommend Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and Nina Planck's Real Food?
Yes, thank you very much.

Why did you decide to eat meat again?
I don't really have a good answer for this one. It just feels like the right time. Honestly, I think it has little to do with food and more to do with where I'm at in my life. I was one of those teenagers who always said I didn't care what anybody else thought, but then it turned out that I cared a lot; like everybody, I've tried as a grown-up to sort out what I really think and who I really am. Over the last couple of years I've found myself wanting to peel off some of the labels that I'd always worn to ensure that I would stand out. Two years ago, for example, I shaved my legs for the first time since high school -- and the feminist police didn't show up at my house demanding that I give up my membership card. This past winter I took out my big earlobe plugs and have let the holes shrink. Now, I'm not saying that I've "grown out of" being a vegetarian, or having hairy legs, wearing funny jewellery, or whatever. I'm just feeling more confident in who I am and, as a result, less concerned with proving it. Being a vegetarian was as much a political identity as it was a practice of eating, and I'm ready to peel off that label.

Take it slow, or you might get sick.
I'm surprised and happy to report that my system has not rebelled (yet). I'd expected some explosive digestive action, but so far so good. (I've had small amounts of chicken, lamb, deli turkey, barbecued ribs, and whatever was in that poutine.)

What are some of the things you're going to try?
OK, nobody actually asked this question, but it's one that I've asked myself. There are classics I used to like, like barbecued steak, bacon, and roast beef (with Yorkshire pudding, of course). There are things I've never tried, like prosciutto, chorizo, pot roast, tandoori chicken. There are lots of lowbrow meats that are calling to me, including chicken mcnuggets, cheeseburgers, those little red sweet-and-sour pork balls from food-fair Chinese places. There are soups and sauces made with meat stock, like French onion soup and wonton soup. And there is Jell-O, and marshmallows. (I didn't eat gelatin, either.) I don't actually plan to eat Jell-O or marshmallows, but if I stumbled across a pan of Rice Krispies squares, I would be happy to eat those.

Thanks again for being so cool. I'll be back soon to show you my new dress. I also cast on for the Josephine Top from the last IK, so I'll show you that too. Enjoy your Friday!

32 comments:

Jon said...

and just think of all the chicken-ass-on-a-stick you'll be able to enjoy when you visit Taiwan! Now THAT'S a reason to eat meat! ;)

carolyn said...

crumble up chorizo into the mix while making scrambled eggs. delish!

and when you come to chicago, we'll go to chicken hut. the lowest brow best fucking tasting chicken on earth.

Glenna C said...

You are making me want some poutine! MMMM, it's been ages since I've had some. I've always been an omnivore and I think it's great to figure out what food choices work best for you.

Karen said...

no offense to the person who recommended nina planck, but i'd anti-recommend her. she wrote an awful op-ed in the new york times recently, demonizing vegan parents just to try to sell more copies of that book. (i hope i don't sound like a veggie fascist for saying that, but it offended me.)

griping about unrelated things aside, you have the support of your vegetarian readers, too, in making your own choices about this stuff.

George and Erin said...

I haven't shaved my legs/armpits consistently in the last ten years. The last time they were shaven was four years ago. I recently bought a razor (to shave for my wedding at the end of the summer) but it has sat in the bathroom drawer for over a week. I might be a little scared that the feminist police might come knocking at my door! Your description of wearing labels to ensure you'd stand out rang true for me. Thanks.

Daphne said...

In regard to the "take it slow or you'll get sick" -- I think it's a myth. No, I mean, I'm sure some people do get sick when they change their diets dramatically. (I get sick under stress, so you know. to each their own.) But most people I know who went back to eating meat *haven't* gotten sick, and I most certainly haven't.

My partner is a vegetarian and he's not about to change; he's also the cook in our house, so I still have a very vegetarian diet. Mixed relationships can work!

Last, I'm glad to hear you don't like to cook. Me, neither! I get the urge to make food but unless it takes 30 minutes or less, I get frustrated. If I were single again, with my current income, my fridge would be full of takeout. I do manage to make lunches usually though, and that's a personal victory.

/end novel-length comment.

Lee Ann said...

In my first marriage, we kept kosher and did not have room for separate meat dishes, so I was restricted to a vegetarian diet. I'd actually done a lot of vegetarian cooking before then and still have all of my books...I'm actually considering going back to them to get ideas for veg dishes that meat-eaters will like as side dishes. (My husband is a big meat eater and needs to be convinced of the value of a vegetable in any edible form...).

When I switched to eating meat after twelve years of veg, I actually felt a lot better. It just amped up my desire to explore food and cooking. Which means now I've got easily twice the cookbooks :-)

You are where you are in your life, and what you put in your mouth is your choice. I'm glad that you're the one making the choice--that's very important.

I still can't stomach the thought of poutine. Nope. Can't do it. :-}

lyssa said...

well said!

i've also had the labels. i've also stood out.
although, I do believe that it started when i felt like a bit of an outsider to begin with...

i, also, have not owned a razor in over 10 years.

Mary the Digital Knitter said...

I managed to stand out from the crowd by being one of only ten female engineering students in an eng'ring school of over 3,000, back in the late '60s. That saved me from a lot of other labels, I suspect.

I started shaving my legs and underarms well before it was a feminist issue and I've never stopped. Feminism is about giving women choices in their lives, not just changing limits to a new standard. It would be very un-feminist to attempt to dissuade anyone from shaving anything.

Incidentally, the vegetarians I've known who reacted badly to going back to eating meat seemed to be reacting more to eating rich food than to eating meat per se. If poutine, with or without meat, doesn't upset you, I'll bet nothing will.

Lolly said...

Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer the questions put forth by your readers, Alison. Best wishes~

Jill said...

I used to be a vegetarian too, although I had to rationalize my love for non-veggie sushi by saying "Fish aren't cute and cuddly, and they only have a 3 second memory". I stopped being a vegetarian for pretty much for the same reasons you have (trying different things, growing up, etc.). I gave it up along with my nose ring and non-shaved legs because being different doesn't mean you have to stand out in a crowd, or to make you feel like you belong in to a group.

May I suggest a pot roast cooked in red wine? It's wonderful!
Or if you like sushi, how about trying something with eel in it, like sashimi or a dragon roll. The meat is smoked and the eel sause is so wonderful

meg_knits said...

A few years ago I ate meat again for the first time in fifteen years - I had developed a digestive disorder that made eating vegetables, soy, tvp, legumes and dairy nearly impossible.

And you know what? Bacon tastes SOOOO good with ripe cantalope!

Every now and again I let the ole pits grow out as a salute to my feminist women's college past. But I don't really feel like I am "rebelling" anymore.

Karine said...

Welcome back to the carnivore world. I too notice that there some things about me that change overtime, some more superficial then others like not wearing my Queen Bitch T-shirt anymore (I just am, no need to shout it). I don't think you were making a point. It was the right choice for that part of your life but clearly for you, not for a lifetime. When you're ready, I strongly suggest you get yourself a steak at The Keg, medium rare at the most.

Mariko said...

"I don't actually plan to eat Jell-O or marshmallows, ... " Um, yeah, WHAT? You should TOTALLY eat Jell-O and marshmallows! And if your system were to rebel, I think it would be just as likely to rebel against a vegetarian version of poutine as a meaty one.

Speaking of poutine, I really, really want to eat it. There are no cheese curds here, however.

meg said...

I think it's great you are doing as you please.

Just wanted to say I really dig that you put that out there about shedding the labels/physical identity's. I think many of us can relate to that. I have a dear friend that is a few years younger currently immersed in her own struggle to figure it out. I just really loved the way you answered that. Keeping it real.

shannon said...

bacon has been the "gateway" meat for three of my now meat eating friends. :) they never had issues (at least none they shared) with their bodies rebelling. i'm kind of thankful for them not sharing. lol

Janelle said...

I have to admit that I didn't know what poutine was before now, but we're heading to our county fair this weekend, home of all things fried that should be fried (and quite a few things that shouldn't), and if I see poutine there, I'll definitely try it. That looks sinfully tasty. I allow myself a heartattack on a plate pass when I'm at the county fair. Good thing it only comes once a year!

Michelle said...

As another lapsed vegetarian, I would like to say welcome. I didn't have a bad reaction when I started up on meat again either. I figured it was something my body really wanted.

Yer killin' me with all the poutine talk, you know.

meegiemoo said...

Bacon owns my soul.

Jodi said...

Good prosciutto is a must-try (and this is a chicken/fish person talking)!!! When I studied in Rome I learned to love it paired with sliced cantaloupe (prosciutto e melone).

knitstuff said...

ah, growing up and being who you want to be, it's a good thing.

Cari said...

If you choose to eat meat, I certainly have no problem with that (why should I?) and as you know Billy eats meat. Everyone makes the choice that's best for them, hopefully. I do find it interesting that you refer to your vegetarianism as a political issue rather than an ethical one. Do you mean politics of land use and resources etc?

Jill B. said...

Welcome back to the beautiful world of meat...
Food should never be a label. It ought to just be about what you like and what works for you. I admitted that I was vegetarian simply because it seems like it agrees more with my body type. I will probably not be a strict one, the thought of giving up Chinese potstickers (you know, the really great doughy ones with the sausage balls in the middle?!) left me weak in the knees.

Kate said...

I'm definitely a feminist and I haven't shaved my legs in over 2 years, but just out of laziness. Know what label I hate? "Stay at home mom". People think you're a mindless loser.

leigh said...

I know what you mean about peeling off some of the old labels. Oddly you feel you can be rid of them without loosing any of your identity.

Carrie said...

I'm so interested in this poutine. What do cheese curds taste like? Educate me!

And also, Jacob does most of the cooking in our house too. He's good at it, and I'm not; he likes it (most of the time) and I HATE it.

Hooray for making our own choices and being confident in ourselves. and thanks for being so open on your blog!

xoxo, Carrie(oke)

Luch said...

The poutine article was great! All I really knew before was how yummy and bad for you they are. I am recently considering taking out my nose ring and for reasons I really wasn't sure about. Your post helped me think about it more...I think it's that it just isn't necessary to define me anymore. Strange. And by the way, you mentionned chicken nuggets...not sure how much meat is actually in those. =) (P.S. I love meat..welcome back!)

djb said...

I remember the first time I tried MacDonalds. Me and my brothers were driven to town (we lived in the bush), and taken to this brand new restaurant that was on the telly. We'd never tried fast food. We scoffed down a cheeseburger meal each and then promptly regurgitated them in the garden on our way back to the car park. Obviously we've never eaten it since. Beware of MacDonalds!

Knittiana! said...

Don't let anyone make you feel guilty. I have been vegan for quite a long time, my motivation being less animal rights (although I find it terrible what is done to animals in mass production!) than more to an understanding (for me anyhow) that it is important to be responsible with where the food comes from and what consequences the production has on us, our world etc.
I did start eating meat again too, and I think I just was ready for it. People criticized me (not my favorite vegan activist, he is the one person one could imagine to be upset but he is just love all around!) but I made my own decision. Now I still am very conscious about where my food comes from and still cook vegan and vegetarian foods, but when I want to. (I also know I would be able to raise my own chicken. No kidding...)

Dr. Steph said...

You really got me thinking about my "outer expressions of feminism" and how they've changed with age. Did I finally get worn down by patriarchy when I started wearing makeup and shaving or did I switch the small outer things with some big changes in how I think?

Something to mull over during lunch.

Mandy said...

Thank you so much for sharing your "why", Alison. I really relate to this, though not related to food... more the leg-shaving, appearance, etc. When we're young it seems so important to have these ways to define ourselves and to show everyone else who we are, we can get a bit too dependent on them. I've been slowly letting go of these things and experimenting, especially since I turned 30. It's great to read about you going through the same sort of process, to see how you describe it. :)

Anonymous said...

I really identified with your explanation of WHY. I, too, have been peeling off some labels and feel great. It's as if I was using all of those to identify me, but over the years I have realized that's not who I want to be anymore. Or something like that.

-Stacey at toomanyscarves