Monday, November 07, 2005

Party on the Beach, Vegetarian Hamburgers, and The Penelopiad

Friday afternoon we piled into the car and took off for a party up north, past Salem, on the coast. It was an hour drive that took us almost two hours due to the "scenic" route and a mad dash into a Dunkin' Donuts for a bathroom break and doughnut holes (bathroom for customers only....).

The view was fantastic and the house a writer's retreat--huge windows, a crackling fire, etc. etc. We stayed on the shore until the sun set, then moved inside for more food, more wine and lots more conversation--I think we covered the riots in Paris all the way to the love/sex paradox. I'm not sure that conclusions were reached. But we did imbibe to our hearts content and talk until we nearly pulled a muscle in our jaws. I laughed until my sides ached. It was a delicious night.

The next morning, I awoke with a headache. Not a hangover, mind you, more like too much good food and crazy talk had gone straight to my head and lodged there. Coffee was all that was needed to clear my synapses for another day. I should note, for the record, that the first words uttered by moi that Saturday morning are as follows: "Honey, I am a vegetarian." And I mean it. For years, roughly since the time I met a certain Hungarian, I have been a non-practicing vegetarian. I believe in it--philosophically, emotionally, even intellectually. Yet I had also been swayed by the kill-the-pig and eat all of it--snout to tail, approach of the Eastern European variety.

At the shore party, however, I fell into conversation with a certain Iranian, who had provided a lavish vegetarian spread from a local Indian restaurant. Somehow bullfighting had arisen as a topic of conversation and he had expressed his disdain, disgust and general repulsion. I jumped into the fray at that point and contributed that I had seen a bull fight in Madrid and, in fact, was surprised by my reaction, which was as follows: At least there was a pretense of respect for the animal. Man is going to kill and eat it. Bullfighting is honest about that AND they profess to eat snout-to-tail as well. Here in the States we pretend that the pink-in-plastic that we serve up with a garlic rub or a delicate white wine reduction is something other than meat. It arrives in the grocery store bloodless and ready for our tidy kitchens and hungry tables.

I could go on to support why I believe in abstaining from meat, but alas I shall save the philosophy. Perhaps I will develop my apology in a later blog; surely I will need one ready at hand for the inevitable questions.

In short, as of Saturday, I am a vegetarian who eats dairy, eggs and fish.

Saturday night, one day into my change of life, a group of people visited with a former high school friend of L's. Guess where we took them to dinner: Mr. Bartley's, Boston's famous hamburger joint for more than forty years. I had my veggie burger and felt good about it. So did my gut the next morning when L. was still complaining about all the food.

Sunday was quiet--lots of reading and stay at home out of the rain time.

I finished Margaret Atwood's newest book. It is called The Penelopiad and retells Homer's Odyssey through Penelope's eyes. It is a delightful read, but I have some questions. I will reserve comments until after we hear Atwood read and discuss her work this coming Thursday.

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