Wednesday, May 13, 2009
It does tend to make you a bit, erm, windy though....
There’s something really wholesome, satisfying and creative about choosing to follow a meat-free diet. If I’m preaching to the converted, then forgive me for such an obvious statement. But halfway though a seven day experiment to coincide with Vegetarian Week, what I thought was already a fully-stoked obsession has been subject to an intense reinvigoration. I didn’t know how jaded my palate had become until I ditched the familiar flesh in favour of food that was inestimably fresher and far less gory to prepare. The process of rehydrating pulses or grinding nuts coupled with the rekindled realisation that aubergines, courgettes and even the humble cauliflower can provide the thrust of a whole meal, not just a supporting role, has reminded me what real food is all about.
Although a perfect steak, a fragrant sliver of pork or the scent of slowly roasting lamb all offer an appeal that I’m not prepared to give up entirely, taking a week-long break from carving my way around gristle, bone and sinew or justifying my bloodthirsty appetite by paying a small fortune for a dead animal that enjoyed a Brideshead Revisited-style upbringing before it died for me is putting me back in touch with a far more tasteful aspect of my foodie self.
As I was brought up vegetarian, I’m spending many long hours of my flesh-free week experiencing an extended sense of déjà vu, fondly recalling suppers created around potato cakes, homemade hummus, peanut butter and wholemeal bread. I can suddenly remember how weird it seemed to consider eating the real-life version of the toy animals I snuggled up in bed with every night. At the age of 16, a rebellious moment involving a hot dog dragged me off the path of righteousness. Decades on, a hazelnut, leek and cheese burger is leading me back towards the light.