“I am not a monster,” meaningfully spoken by Eric Stoltz as the son “Rocky”, in Mask.
Nor am I a weirdo, with eating habits somewhere between American carnivoral worship and a hard-line towing vegetarian. I am often wrongly classified as a food snob, having never bitten the head off a shrimp or eaten chitterlings (remember, I’m black and from the South).
What I don’t eat: shrimp, calamari and most seafood, but especially shellfish; steak, veal, duck, rabbit, lamb, ribs, venison, dark meat chicken, any meat on the bone, and the list goes on with more unusual foods like bison or buffalo.
What I do eat: chicken breast and occasionally ground burger, roast beef, bacon (yum!), and I believe that might cover it.
So when I go to restaurants, which is often, I feel like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally, always asking for accoutrements on the side, or whether the chicken is chicken breast specifically, or whether the chicken is on the bone. God forbid if I see a vein inside the flesh of the meat, or if I bite off a bit of fat, gristle, or tendon. When that happens, I’m done. Meal over. And I may never visit that restaurant again. Harsh?
Whenever somebody makes a comment about my eating habits (passed on to my children, of course), I wonder whether complete vegetarians are harassed about their eating habits too. I wonder if vegetarians are told, “you have food issues”. I think not. But being somewhere in between, not being able to go totally veggie, makes me the outcast.
I can respect that lots of people like to crack the shell of a live-boiled animal and eat its insides. I know that some people like the taste of a 3-year old baby cow. Or that chitterlings, which smell disgusting, which used to process a pig’s stomach contents, are served with hot sauce and vinegar, after being boiled for hours to kill the bacteria. Now that’s a delicacy!
In high school, I loved to eat goose liver pate sandwiches with mustard. One day, I asked my mother what it was really made of, since goose liver is such a funny nickname. My mom looked at me like I was retarded (or an idiot). And THAT was the last bite I ever had of goose liver. Around the same time, I gave up eating legs (aka drumsticks), cube steak (look it up..it’s a cheap, gristly cut), sucking on pork chop bones, and…you get the drift.
In tantalizing commercials filled with laughing groups of people cracking red lobster shells with special tools while squeezing lemons and drinking wine, I see a dead animal on a plate.
So, why then, as a “part-time vegetarian” who has to eat chicken every other day or so for the protein kick, do I get flack from both the meat eaters and the tofu eaters? To the meat eaters, I am snobbery on a plate. To die-hard vegetarians, I am an animal killer.
What’s for dinner? Hell, I don’t know. But I can tell you what isn’t.