Monday, June 30, 2008

To Market, to Market, to Buy a Fat-- uh-- Soybean

By Margy McCarthy

Darling daughter Shriek recently announced that we needed to take her to Olive Garden for dinner. She and two of her friends had decided to be vegetarians for a month.

It was to be The Last Supper, I guess; although I don’t recall Jesus and the Twelve scarfing down salad, breadsticks, and seafood alfredo in the upper room.

At least that’s not what we get at Communion.

My original response to this proclamation was mixed. It was a Friday, I was all in favor of dining out. It was the vegetarian part that threw me. Oh, really? Who’s planning (and financing) these menus? did battle with, Sounds like an excuse for a 31-day candy-fest to me! in my mind. But somewhere amid the loud protestations a quieter voice whispered, Why not? A few more leafy greens and some low-fat protein on the table wouldn’t do the rest of us any harm. Plus, the quiet voice nudged me with its pointy elbow, these hot flashes can use all the soy you can throw at them. After discussing Shriek’s plan with my husband Sparky, we decided to give it a try. We would support this new endeavor.

Frankly, feeding this child has never been easy. As an infant, she showed the alarming propensities of the future leader of a bulimic gang. She would nurse and nurse and nurse, then stealthily shoot any overflow into the lap of the person feeding her. No matter what I did to prevent it, I never saw it coming.

Drive-by puking.

She was so proud when we gave her a whole slice of pizza for the first time. Beaming, she picked it up in her tiny hands, bit off the end like a big girl, and set it back down on her plate. We applauded her. She applauded herself. She reached for the pizza again and burst into tears. “I can’t eat it now!” she sobbed, looking at her bitten slice, “It’s broken!”

That’s when I knew we were in for it.

This girl does not come from herbivorous stock. Sparky and I were both raised in the Midwest, where, by law, large hunks of cooked livestock must grace the table at every meal.

At least that was the law at my house.

My father’s branch of the family tree runs strong to the British; who, we all know, don’t call their yeomen “beefeaters” for nothing. In fact, my maiden name, “Gibson,” roughly translated from the Middle English, means, “Son of Gib who eats cows.” When traced back several generations into Ireland, one of Sparky’s immigrant ancestors has been quoted as saying, “Feckin’ potatoes again? Jaysus, Mary and Joseph, if that’s all we be havin’ I’ll be leavin’ here fer sure.”

As I write this, Shriek is a little over a week into her Meatless Month, and both of her friends have already suffered hamburger relapse. Yet, there were thick ribeyes on our table the other night (along with the artichokes and vegetable risotto with fontina) and she held fast. If I know my strong-willed daughter, she will make it through the month. The only carnivorous longing I’ve even heard her voice is a repeated mumble in her sleep-- It’s hard to make out exactly, but it sounds like she’s saying, “Panda Express Orange Chicken…Panda Express Orange Chicken…”

I guess that’s what we’ll be having for dinner about three weeks from now.


Kalynne Pudner said...

Ribeyes, artichokes and vegetable risotto with fontina? Where do you live, again?

Threeundertwo said...

mmmmmmm Panda Express orange chicken. . .

My daughter tried to go vegetarian, then she realized she hates vegetables.

MargyWrites said...

Kalynne- Come on over! There's always plenty to share. What WILL I do when they're out of the house? I don't have any idea how to cook for two anymore.

TUT- It's funny how kids don't stop to consider such things before they jump onto the bandwagon. You can only dress up a soybean so many ways...

Sleeping with Ward Cleaver said...

LOL re: broken pizza. Ah, the idiosyncrasies of kids and their food...
My middle one (girl) announced at the ripe age of 8 that she was turning vegetarian. I figured that'd last about a day. She's now 16-1/2 and holding fast. There were a few years there where she was more pasta-tarian, but she actually does eat plenty of vegetables, just not any imaginative renderings. My youngest is carnivorous to the bone (her favorite dish is tenderloin, the bigger the better). Two vegetables have passed her lips in 14 years--a carrot and a tomato. Neither made it to her stomach.

Daisy said...

After all is done, you may end up with some new veggie recipes! They could be side dishes to the big slabs of meat that, I admit, we eat up in the Wisconsin Tundra, too.

MargyWrites said...

Jenny- LOL the carrot and tomato. I am so impressed with your daughter's tenacity! I have little belief that this will last with her- but my hope is that she will learn to vary her diet from the chicken strips, toast and chewing gum plan she's on now.

And Daisy- YES! More recipes! More recipes! You know, sometimes I think I could almost be a vegetarian. I love them.