I’ve been itching and threatening to write this one for quite a while, so those that know me well, will not be surprised with today’s post.
I am a vegetarian!!
As soon as I drop this bomb, new acquaintances do a double take. “But, you don’t look like one,” pops out of their mouth before they realize. Out of politeness, now I nod and smile having heard this a million times. I have pondered over this statement many a times, what does a vegetarian face look like? The face I wear somehow does not suit that stereotype.
Is it a Buddha like serene countenance that is required? Or a look of profound piety, which I do not possess? So pray (I wonder) do I carry the look that is carnivorous? Or is it cannibalistic, the face that the creator furnished me with? Whatever the reason, I’m not yet enlightened. Since polite folk just laugh when I ask them back what a vegetarian looks like. “Not like you, certainly,” said one and another afraid probably of my cannibalistic looks hurriedly pacified, “No, no I didn’t mean to offend!”
Still with doubt in their mind, the next question that comes, “Is your family vegetarian? Were you forced to by your in-laws,” they ask with pity in their eyes. If they knew me well enough, they’d know how remote that possibility is, as my long suffering in-laws can testify, forcing me to do something against my will. Well, that just doesn’t happen. The doubting Thomas’ need to confirm, “Must have left it for religious reasons!”
Here I give up, my genuine, ‘I don’t relish the taste of non-veg,’ doesn’t suffice. For you see, I do not have the ‘looks’ to convince.
Grudgingly, they wonder what to feed this strange creature who does not fit the mould and upsets their well-planned menu. Now, they must add some vegetarian options to it. Sigh!! More work!! What to add is the next dilemma, what do vegetarians eat? Grass, we cannot serve, she is after all a guest. Salad, she’ll think we are commenting on her weight, she needs to shed but how can we be so obvious. Vegetables are sides, to be had with meat (that is the actual food.) Then they have their ‘aha moment’! They hit on just the right combination – aloo (potatoes) as appetizer and Paneer (cottage cheese) for mains. There, what a fancy menu, she’ll surely be glad we know what a vegetarian’s palate be fond of. As I eat their carefully selected choices and smile in wonder at another thoughtful meal of aloo and paneer. There and then I promise myself to get to the writing of my long overdue cook book, “Vegetarian Party Cooking – Not a single Aloo or Paneer Recipe!”