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This vegetarian learns how to make bacon

January 31, 2013
Piglets

The piglet that haunts my dreams. Or one that looks just like him.

No, that’s not a euphemism for something dirty. (Please, my dad reads this blog.) I have been vegetarian for – I can’t believe I’m about to say this – almost 20 years. Holy hell. Well, if you’ve been with me for a while you know that I used to refer to myself as “domestically disabled.” I said this with the utmost self-affection for my adorable inabilities, of course, but it was true. Since leaving NYC and the food wonderland that it is for the crappy corporate restaurants of Middle America, I decided that I needed to learn to cook if I wanted to eat anything good ever again in my life, especially because there are no vegetarian restaurants here. Applebee’s doesn’t even have a veggie burger on the menu. So, I did what needed to be done: I asked for cooking classes for Christmas. Thank you, Brian. And you’re welcome.

My first class was Tuesday night. (I’m taking classes here.) Although I was super excited, I was also nervous for the chef to discover my dirty little vegetarian secret. If you’ve worked food service, you know chefs can be tough, to put it mildly. I had visions of being publicly ridiculed or kicked out of class or something humiliating like that. I would’ve tried to find a vegetarian cooking class, but this is the only cooking school for about a hundred miles in any direction, and classic technique is classic technique, so I figure if I learn I can just adapt it to vegetarian cooking. Plus, since I’ve started getting into the foodie culture a bit, I’ve been trying to keep an open mind about the possibility of eating meat again since it’s a big part of it. Anyway, this class is a demo class, so I thought I might dodge the meat bullet altogether. Yeah, not so much. During our first class, I learned how to make chicken stock, roast chicken, and … home-made bacon.

When the chef pulled out the pork belly and said, “Sometimes you’ll get these and they’ll still have the teats on them! You know – the nipples,” visions of tiny piglets wandering and wondering where their mama had gone flashed in my brain.

Oh, I’m sorry, you tiny baby piggies you, we’re eating her.

Open mind test = total fail. The chef started to pass around the “Killer BLTs” she had just made for all of us, and I quietly and politely said, “No, thanks,” as the sandwiches came around to all, oh, eight of us, and then I realized there was no hiding. My anxiety had been building up for about an hour by that point (I was actually sweating), and when the chef pointed to me and said, “You need one?” I blurted out, “I’m a vegetarian!” much like I might have said, “I farted!” with my hands up in burning shame and total surrender.

And what did Chef say? “Oh, okay, no problem. My daughter is a pescetarian.” And then she made me a veggie sandwich.

Kids, the moral of this story is: don’t be afraid to be yourself because the truth is going to fall out of your mouth anyway. And you’ll still get a totally delicious sandwich and more raw zucchini salad than the rest of your classmates. I’m walking proof of that.

photo credit: BecauseUAreHere via photopin cc

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