When I lived in Detroit, Michigan, my ex-boyfriend turned me on to lots and lots of great ethnic foods: Szechuan, Thai, Japanese (we liked to dare each other to eat the weirdest sushi), Korean, Indian, etc… So, when my middle brother and his wife came to visit, I was very excited to introduce them to these great new cuisines.
Recently, I thought about that old question “If you had a gun to your head…” amazing how that means such a different thing now. (But, I’m not going to go there.) Anyway, I thought to myself: “If I had only ONE cuisine to choose from, which would it be?” It took a long time, but I finally decided the one cuisine that I loved the most. NOT, that I really ever want to give up any of the others. But, you know….that gun.
When I became a vegetarian, foreign cuisines became more important to me, as did cooking. I think that anyone that knows me will avow that I’m not one of those pushy, preachy vegetarians. I don’t do it for any other reason than I LOVE ANIMALS. While I wish everyone would think like me, I know they won’t and that’s okay. If they can be comfortable eating that very, very cute little calf (skipping and hopping in the joy of the Spring of life....) fine. But, I can’t do it.
Oh!!! the reason that foreign cuisines became important to me when I became a vegetarian is that so many of them had vegetarian main dishes. Not necessarily because they didn’t want to eat meat. Mostly it was because they had to come up with something when they didn’t have meat.
Americans always had meat. Even before it was in the stores, there was a plentiful bounty in this “new world.” So, it is rare that there is an American main dish that doesn’t involve meat. Mac & cheese? Maybe…but, most Americans think of it as a side dish.
So, I took my brother and his wife to my favorite Szechuan restaurant and they ordered Chop Suey. I think they liked it. I guess it was probably better than the stuff Mom used to get out of a can, but Chop Suey is so mundane and something that I would never order. Then, I took them to my favorite Indian restaurant. On the way out, my brother muttered to me “I would starve if had been born Indian.” (So THAT’s why so many starve in that part of the world!!)
Wow, I thought. My gun-to-my-head cuisine turned out to be Indian. It was a tough choice at first because I love Italian. But, I also love lots of Thai, Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, even Polish, etc. dishes. So, I went with Indian. In a large part, I guess I chose Indian because they have a multitude of vegetarian dishes. But it’s mostly the spices…oh, the spices! They have so many different spices.
Then again, so does everyone else, so I’m really glad I don’t actually have to choose.