Tuesday 11 March 2008
Vegetarians - Don'tcha Love 'em?!?
I have to choose my words carefully here, since for some inexplicable reason, I can number one or two of the breed amongst my nearest and dearest - a fact I can only ascribe to some kind of defect from the other side of their genetic inheritance. The fact is, for the most part, I don't have a lot of time for the concept, or indeed for its practitioners (for as long as they're practicing it, at any rate).
Oscar Wilde once said something along the lines that "Good People are responsible for an awful lot of bad things in this World - chief amongst which is the degree of importance they impart to Bad People". In saying which, Wilde was placing himself firmly amongst the fun-loving Bad People - where most us of would prefer to be, keeping him company, than breathing the rarified atmosphere of the moral high ground in the company of The Good. And the same distinction applies to the vegetarians and the omnivores - the rest of us. The vegetarians have firmly seized the moral high ground, from where they can look down upon the rest of us as we indulge in orgies of self-indulgent slaughter of fluffy, cuddly things, merely in order to satisfy our depraved appetites. And, significantly, we allow them to get away with this. We fall over ourselves to respect their opinions, and get out of the way of their implicit moral crusade, whilst we tie ourselves in knots re-thinking our dinner party menus just in order to accommodate them - and we shouldn't!
The fact underlying all of this is that, frankly, Vegetarians just Don't Like Food. There isn't any hardship involved in what they do. It's easy for them. When was the last time you heard a vegetarian bemoaning the fact that their principles forbade them from tucking into a wonderfully juicy entrecôte, or that their dream was a triple-decker bacon sandwich, but that they would nevertheless continue the struggle against temptation? Never! They aren't interested in the stuff, and it's about time that we stopped tiptoeing round their compromised palates in the mistaken belief that their position is worthy of a respectful silence.
And there's another thing. Apparently, there are approximately 20,000 different species of edible plant on the planet....and in fact 90% of our food consumption relies on only twenty of them. Twenty! I can't even be bothered to do the percentages on that one - but it clearly argues that the vegetarians just aren't interested to vary their choices any further than they already are. Yum! Sesame Toast (hold the Prawn) for the seventeenth consecutive veggie Chinese banquet in a row!
Normally, I'd have a sense of nagging doubt when going into print against such a particularly well-defined constituency. But not this time; for the simple reason that I can be perfectly confident that my words will go unseen by anybody likely to be offended , since no vegetarian is ever likely to read what I'm writing( except, possibly, for the occasional member of my family, I suppose - if sufficiently bored). I'm writing about food; vegetarians aren't interested in food; vegetarians won't be interested to read what I write....Phew - safe!
So, what I really ought to be saying is that next time you have one of these people round to dinner, don't bother giving them a moment's special thought. Carry on serving up that wonderful Daube, rich and unctuous and aromatic, and blithely tell them to leave the bits they don't like, or if they just want to have the carrots on their own, then they just have to say so. They won't mind; they really won't care - they don't actually like food anyway.
Except, sadly, it doesn't work like that. Good manners dictates that we carry on tiptoeing around their preferences and bending over backwards to accommodate them. We'd feel bad about ourselves if we didn't. ...it's hard-wired in. The same basis on which the Just get wet, as the unJust waltz off through the downpour with the umbrellas they've borrowed and never returned.....
It's a thought, you know: maybe the Good People aren't actually quite so........ Good.... after all? Have you ever considered that?
Squid, stewed with Tomatoes and Peas.
Bistecchie di Maiale; Lampacioni fritti.
Plum and Almond Tarts. (V)