"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

A ‘Flexitarian’s’ dilemma…

by Julie on March 5, 2011

in Good Ideas Gone Bad

Lady Gaga and her lovely meat dress

Meat. It's what's for dinner. Maybe.

Say you don’t believe in absolutes. No black and white for you, only tones of gray.

You won’t call yourself a vegetarian, even though you don’t have much of a taste for meat, because you don’t want to be rigid when somebody wants to buy you the smallest, juiciest little medallion of filet mignon you’ve ever seen. You’d be a fool, for example, to find yourself in San Francisco at Zuni Cafe and  turn your nose up at its famous roast chicken. You reserve the right to steal a piece of bacon from one or both kids on Sunday, because, well, it’s Sunday, and you’re at the diner, and you’re paying. So technically, that bacon is yours anyway, even though you’re not supposed to eat bacon.

And finally,  you know perfectly well that sometimes nothing in the world will fix what ails you like an In n’ Out Burger, animal style.

So you’ve been referring to yourself, if asked at all, as a “flexitarian.” You’re happy with rice and beans and lentils and salads except for those rare times you’re invited to a carne asada. What are you gonna say? No?

But then what happens when you meet a guy, right out of the blue,  who seems to fit all the major and minor criteria for what You Want Right Now, in an almost comically perfect way, except for one baffling exception:

He’s an avowed carnivore.

As in, “If it isn’t meat, it isn’t food.”

On our first date he told me this fact, and also that, when left to his own devices, he ate like a six-year-old.

“So, like, fish sticks and Chicken McNuggets?”

“Yeah. Sure.”

“And Pop Tarts? You must like Pop Tarts…”

“Ewwww. Pop Tarts have fruit in them.”

“Pop Tarts have processed jam-like stuff in them.”

“I’ll eat jam. But I hate fruit.”

Surely he was kidding. I listed an array of summer fruit, the likes of which make most people roll their eyes back into their heads with pleasant memories of childhood summers. Peaches? Plums? Nectarines? Watermelon?

He shuddered. “I hate fruit. I hate vegetables. I don’t eat ‘grow food.'”

Grow food? “I will find one vegetable you like.”

“Many have tried,” he smiled, shaking his head. “It’s not gonna happen.”


I like to cook for the people in my life (especially those brave enough to let me). And this turn of events presents a distinct problem, since I don’t care for meat and I don’t know how to cook it in any case. I have only a handful of dishes that include meat, and after that, my repertoire is exhausted. I am already dangerously down my list.

He loved the Paella. Devoured the leftovers the next day for lunch. (“And I don’t even eat leftovers!”) A good sign. I’m sure he’ll like the shepard’s pie, too. And surely the Dehli-style lamb stew. I haven’t made that in years, and it’s a proven crowd-pleaser.

But then what? It could get awfully expensive eating sushi every week.

Then I stumbled onto this: Fried Red Thai Jasmine Rice with Shrimp. And I was inspired. Only I’m gonna cut up the veggies real small like, as if I was trying to sneak them past a child, say, a six-year-old.

Carefully gathered intelligence also shows he likes rice, potatoes, fish and cilantro, which, last I checked, was grow food. But like I’m gonna mention that and shoot myself in the foot. Also, he loved the lentil soup (but then who doesn’t?)

Did I say problem? Let’s call it a challenge.

Stay tuned…

Photo: a tip o’ the hat to the site Hats of Meat (“You would look neat, in a hat made of meat!”)

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

KVR March 6, 2011 at 7:05 am

I can explain! Really! Yes, when left to my own devices I do in fact have the dietary habits of a child. Duh! I’m a guy! Sure I can cook. I even know a thing or two about steaming asparagus or putting tomatoes, onion, aji amarillo, and yes… cilantro, into Lomo Saltado. But consider this…

Our teeth are designed such that we use them to tear apart (say it with me) meat! Our metabolism and digestion systems are wonderfully designed so that awesome Porterhouse breaks down and is processed into… Well… Whatever it gets processed into. Essentially, we are built for meat which can only mean one thing…. We’re SUPPOSED to consume it. As parents we spend an incredible amount of time making sure our little lino-lizards don’t put dirty things into their little mouths. Right? Grow food was birthed from that same dirt! See the correlation?

I didn’t write the rules.

Okay so… The lentil soup was yummy. I took me back to a time when Grammy (Abuelita) made it. It’s comfort food and warms more than just the stomach. The Paelle, really was delicious (beyond delicious!). Even after I found out it had (ack) artichoke hearts in it. So perhaps I’m not as staunch about grow-food as I pretend. But… And I will always maintain… If it doesn’t contain meat… It’s not really food. Then again… Last night I had pancakes and maple syrup for dinner!


aboogie March 8, 2011 at 9:46 am

Grow food is the most hilarious terminology i have ever heard of in my life. yet i have had this conversation and mission countless times with potential beaus… my new favorite is “gosh, why to these, these things (vegetabeles) always have to taste so, so frickin GREEN!”


alice March 9, 2011 at 5:27 am

I wonder why it is mostly men who are addicted to meats. I had a boyfriend who was the same way, except at least he made an exception for broccoli and peas. He also believed in complete “meals” whereas I have always been more of a grazer and tend to live off of little bowls of this or that throughout the day.


bad home cook March 9, 2011 at 7:39 am

@Alice – I know one or two chicks who crave meat … I don’t understand it, myself. I’m a grazer like you…and I have a whole lotta little bowls…


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: