Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Alternative diet

A couple of months ago we went to the Farmer's Market as a family.  We browsed the varieties of apples, tasting at least a dozen.  We bought bags of organic greens.  We were tempted into purchasing a slab of chocolate and nut coated toffee.  As we were winding our way thorough the vendors, Mr. Dog spotted an organic butcher and decided to stop and look. 
He was interested in getting some meat, and as it was they had three different kinds of bacon.  And a hoof.  Well, more like the whole front leg of some poor animal. And it was right there in the case next to the meat.  While I don't enjoy this kind of thing, I got used to all of the animal bit being displayed in the shops on Mission street.  Stacks of pigs heads, or just the snouts, tails, ears and other unidentifiable chunks of animal were proudly displayed in the cases. And clearly people were buying them or they butchers would have stopped.  I mean, I wasn't buying since I'm mostly vegetarian and certainly not interested in the feet and cheeks of the various animals, but I more or less got over being freaked out by it.  And that brings us back to the Ballard Farmers Market.  I may be used to the leg in the case, they boys?  Well, not so much.  First they noticed the leg with the hoof still attached, then they noticed the smell.  It smelled like meat. 
When I was in college there was this Italian guy who lived down the hall in the dorms.  He was also a vegetarian.  One day when we were all hanging out one of our friend was eating a turkey sandwich.  He looked at her, his face filled with disgust and he said in his perfect Italian accent, "Your sandwich- it smells like dead people."  And I get the feeling that this is much what the boys thought as they smelled the meaty smells of the butcher's stand.
"Can't we go?" asked Big Dog, not sure why we were staying in front of this display of animal bits.
"No, papa wants to buy some meat," I replied.
"Yeah, I want to buy something.  Like that hoof," teased Mr. Dog "Or maybe I should just get some bacon."
"Do you want some?"  Little Dog asked me.
"No, I'm a vegetarian.  I don't eat meat."
"I'm a vegetarian too," said my tiny carnivore. "I don't eat meat either," said Little Dog, as though he didn't devour bacon or steak whenever it is set in front of him.
"Really?" I asked, "Because I've seen you eat meat.  Bacon is meat. And when did you become a vegetarian?"
"Now.  When I saw that leg."
"I see," I said, and really I did.  It was pretty gross.
"I'm a vegetarian too," said Big Dog.
"Alright," I said, not at all against the kids making this decision for themselves.  And it lasted almost the whole day too.
Since then Little Dog has been asking about meat a lot.  He is especially interested in what vegetarians do eat.  This morning he was asking about the eggs I was eating.
"Do vegetarians eat those?" he asked.  I assured him they did.  He then tried to refuse his bacon, which he had ordered not that long before he decided to talk about vegetarian diets. 
"Well, you don't have to eat it if you don't want to," I told him.
"Do vegetarians eat bacon?" he asked. 
"No, it's meat.  Vegetarians don't eat meat," I clarified.
"What kind of meat is bacon?" he asked.
"Pork," said Mr. Dog. 
"And pork is made of pig?" asked Little Dog. 
"Yes, pork is pig," Mr. Dog agreed. 
"And vegetarians don't eat pigs," Little Dog said, almost as though he was asking but not quite.
"Well, I do know a few people who are almost vegetarians except they can't give up the bacon," I offered.  That apparently was good enough. He ended up eating most of the bacon and donating the rest of it to Mr. Dog.
Tonight at dinner, I made a Moroccan lentil soup (thanks for the recipe Kathleen!) and though at first bite he told me he liked, Little Dog later confided that he didn't like the soup.  I wasn't that surprised, and the boys aren't forced to eat things they don't like but they do need to try it.  On the other hand Big Dog did like it.  He had expected not to, but he ate it right up.  Mr. Dog decided to try to convince Little Dog to give it another try.  "You know, vegetarians eat that soup," he said.
"Really?" asked Little Dog. Then after a pause, "I'm not a vegetarian."
And that was the end of that.
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