Thursday, July 22, 2010

Now That It Is Almost Next Weekend, Let's Discuss What I Did Last Weekend

Last Friday, my roommate's mother was in town, and she took us all out for dinner. It was a celebratory thing, since he'd just gotten his MA, so she did not spare the expense; it was a pretty upscale restaurant. And the food was fabulous.
But maybe.... a little too fabulous.

Back at the dawn of time (or the dawn of this blog, same thing), I mentioned that I'm sometimes not a very good vegetarian. Well, it's almost two years later, so allow me to amend. I am a HORRIBLE vegetarian. Short of someone reverting to cannibalism, I've got a lock on the title of "Worst Vegetarian Ever." (I exaggerate for comedic effect. Still, it's pretty bad.)

You've probably put two and two together at this point: during this restaurant outing, I ate meat. But it wasn't entirely deliberate. See, the restaurant in question had a vegetarian menu, consisting of a grand total of four items--or so I thought. The actual title of the section was "Vegetarian and Pasta Dishes." It consisted of--and I'm working from a hazy memory here--a salad, a thai dish, a spicy dish, and a penne. I thought I'd try the penne. And thus the rationalizations begin. The penne contained an element called "peameal bacon." "Well," I thought, "peameal must be a fancy restaurant equivalent for tofu--it's telling me the bacon is made out of peameal."

This was not the case.

Next, the gentleman/roommate sitting to my right TELLS me it's not vegetarian. "You know peameal bacon is really bacon, right?" "ah-HA!" I thought. "A delightful comical jab at my expense! Finally, I am one of the group!"

This was not the case.

And then the meal actually came, and I started eating. Now, at this point, the rationalizations become a little more desperate. I'm not stupid. I can taste bacon when I'm eating bacon. Well, actually, it tasted like chicken, but 7 or so years without meat can understandably screw up a palate. Somewhat desperate, I thought to myself, "Man, they can do amazing things with this peameal/tofu substitute!"

This was not the case.

Finally, someone drew attention to my meal, and I couldn't hide it any longer, from myself or others. I blanched. I literally could feel myself blanch. It's a very weird feeling; it's like when you can feel your face go red, but in reverse. I quaffed the remains of my wine, slid down in my chair, and my already narrow trickle of conversation dried up entirely. Miserably, I waited for the end of the meal.

For dessert, I had a lovely slice of carrot cake.

So what's the lesson here? There's a few. Well, despite my attempts to claim otherwise, ignorance of the meat in the meal doesn't entirely excuse eating it. Or slightly excuse eating it, for that manner. That's one lesson. My roommate's mom is top drawer for taking us out to begin with. There's another. Restaurants are not above writing their headings in misleading manners--I mean seriously, peameal bacon or no, who expects non-vegetarian items in the vegetarian portion of the menu? And as a final lesson: peameal bacon is still bacon.

Has the experience changed me? Not really. I haven't gone on any wild meat benders since. On the "falling off the wagon" scale, (always a very scientific form of measurement) it was more a light jolt than a full collapse. The real question is, what will I do to ensure that it won't happen again? Next time, will I ask the waiter what is actually in the dish? Will I honor my own beliefs and act accordingly? Will I stay true to my convictions?

Eh. Maybe? I don't really like talking to strangers more than strictly necessary, you know? And I'd hate to look stupid in front of the other diners. Ah, priorities.

Later Days.


Bill Strang said...

Person of Consequence said...

That's a pretty accurate recreation, yeah.