I know, what a repulsive title, but I have to be honest. As someone who came to a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle late in life, I can't help having moments when I miss certain dishes. Let's face it--for 40 years, I ate cows and pigs and chickens and I enjoyed it. Meat is delicious, there is no getting around it. I was, if there is such a thing, a major steakaholic. I say only half kiddingly today that when I went veg, I saved cattle ranches full of cattle, that is how much steak I used to eat. And I blush when I think of all the legs of lamb I cooked over the years. It is all unthinkable now. Repulsive, even. But I digress...
The other day I was thinking of my grandmother--she passed away in 2006 at the age of 93--and recalling with great fondness her wonderful food. She was Italian-American and frankly the best damned cook I ever knew. She made the best traditional Sunday gravy--for the unitiated into the Italian culture, gravy actually refers to the tomato meat sauce we had with pasta. A gravy takes hours to put together because it usually involves pork chops, meat balls, sausages and--sometimes, to my hypocritical horror back then--PIG'S feet. And the secret to her meatballs was the mixing of veal, beef and pork AND cheese. Delicious, yes. Ethically? Morally? All so, so, so wrong. But the truth is, food is usually always tied up in memories of warm family gatherings and people you love (ESPECIALLY in an Italian household)--in the heart, it is hard to separate the two, and often that is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome when giving up meat. Happily you don't have to give up the warm memories when you give up the gravy. Life goes on--time to make memories with all vegan dishes, something so easy to do these days with the plethora of vegan cookbooks out there.
In the long run, the past is the past. Denying its reality is pointless and denying that meat is delicious is silly for a latter-day vegan. I confess I do envy younger people today who have been raised vegetarian and have never tasted meat. It is good that they don't know what they missed for so many reasons. Do I miss the meat? Sure. I miss my grandmother more.
Dedicated to the memory of Fanny Raphaella O'Brien
The Hoppy Vegan