I spend a considerable part of my day planning meals for my family (read my spouse). Yes, I admit that, even at the cost of being labeled domesticated. I can even use that as an excuse for not working outside the house. If my husband was slightly easier to cook for, I would be out there pursuing my career, minting money. Alright, maybe not, but that is a nice thought. What I am trying to say is, Sean has become increasingly difficult to cook for. He calls himself a vegetarian, which is fine, I can live with that ONLY IF HE ATE VEGETABLES!!!!! The list of vegetables that he doesn’t ‘love’ is quite long. It is easier to cite what he eats than what he doesn’t. But I am not going to go into that. I think of nutrition, protein intake etc for the family, consider my options, which are very limited and then plan a dinner. It is no easy task, believe me when I say that. Also, please don’t forget I am inherently lazy, so I don’t cook meat or fish for the children or myself. We get our protein mainly from different kinds of beans and lentils.
When we are invited to a dinner, I groan inwardly. Don’t get me wrong, I love to socialize and I am not the one to pass up a free meal. I cringe because I have to do the embarrassing and unpleasant task of informing the host that Sean is a vegetarian and they will have to think of vegetarian menu for him. To be fair to him, he doesn’t want any fuss made over it. He says he can just eat salad but I don’t like to see him nibbling on rabbit food all night. So it is really me who is the trouble maker here. Before I go out to the dinner, I tell my kids to mind their manners and then turn to my husband and say, “Please eat whatever is offered!” Why I say that to him? This is why…
In my first year in the United States, I volunteered as an English teacher in Hispanic Apostolate. I made some wonderful friends. One lovely Peruvian woman invited Sean and I to her house for dinner. Her family was so gracious, the house was beautiful, we had a great conversation. They had planned some exotic cocktails for us but we are non drinkers, so we declined the hard drinks and stuck with water. I believe they were slightly disappointed. After a fantastic conversation about Sean’s trip to Peru, his years in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, my experience in US, their experience as immigrants in this country, we were invited to sit at the table. That is when things started to go wrong, embarrassingly wrong. Sean is allergic to mangoes and he doesn’t eat shellfish because they are bottom feeders. The first course served was a delicious salad piled high with mangoes. Mangoes are such a delicacy, of course, only if you are not allergic to them. Sean did his best to continue inane conversation so the hosts wouldn’t notice he was skipping the first course. Didn’t work. They were very attentive, asked him why his plate was empty and poor Sean had to admit he was allergic to mangoes. Oh, the mortification! But more followed. The main course was a delectable dish made of…….scallops, shrimp, mussels, bottom feeders, delicious, super yummy bottom feeders. My husband doesn’t touch those. I felt my face turning red. Sean tried even harder to continue conversation, speak Spanish, whatever to keep them from noticing his plate. He piled on the rice on his plate and kept eating plain rice, but the family noticed. Let it be noted he doesn’t touch white rice because they are empty calories. Again, he had to admit he didn’t eat shellfish. I kept my eyes on the food, simmering in misdirected anger against Sean for putting me through this. My friend jumped up, got a steak out from the fridge and put the steak on the grill. A steak, for my vegetarian husband!!! HELP!!! Sean did eat a little meat those days, very little. I kicked him hard under the table mainly to vent my anger and also to make sure he didn’t blurt out that he didn’t eat steak. We waited a while for the steak to cook and be brought to him. He ate it, rather faked it. The entrée was cleared, it was time for dessert. Dessert was a mousse cake – mango mousse cake. I don’t know who was more embarrassed that day, the gracious, wonderful hosts or us. I ate so much to compensate that I felt bloated the entire car ride back home. That may have been ONE of the reasons I didn’t say a single word to my newly wed husband during that car ride, who kept glancing at my stern profile nervously.
If you ask Sean about his eating habit he will say “Oh I am so easy to feed, just give some dal (lentils) and alu (potatoes) and I am happy!” Seriously! Just don’t ask my vegetarian foodie what vegetable he eats, that question might make him a little uncomfortable!