le végétarien

by jemma margaret

Daunted by the cold, wet April weather two days ago I desperately began searching the web for nearby beaches. This led me to a trip adviser query where a Brit wanted to know if of the nearest coastline by train from Paris since she would be visiting with her daughter who insisted on going to the beach. One respondent replied–sensibly, I thought–that for a beach vacation one might not choose Paris. The mother grew angry by the inferred hostile tone and the respondent apologized for any unintended offense. But really, there are reasons why people visit this city and seaside escapes are not among them.

Another non-reason to visit Paris is for the vegetarian dining options. Not to say it is impossible. Restaurants will be accommodating. This may mean cheese and potatoes for dinner or a salad composed of pale tomatoes, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, squirts of thick dressing, a pile of couscous and a flour tortilla for lunch. Something to write home about, but not in a good way.

Since I eat a lot of vegetables people think I’m healthy. This can have amusing consequences such as when Bobby’s cousin complimented me on the healthy cupcakes that tasted just as good as real ones. I’m not sure what constitutes a healthy cupcake, but I doubt it’s a stick of butter and a cup of sugar. The truth is that I just really love vegetables.

Thus, I am surprised when people are satisfied after a fruitless, vegetabless meal (note: One piece of lettuce on a burger or sandwich would not count in my book. A pickle might.) Conversely, my roommate needs bread with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and my father (correct me if I’m wrong) prefers meat at least once a day.

Because of this vegetable love, I am very well content at Thanksgiving dinners (now I often eat the turkey too) or steak houses. I know my sister will strongly disagree but fries, creamed spinach, hollandaise asparagus, and garlic bread go just as nicely with a poached egg as a filet mignon. Likewise, mushrooms sauteed in butter until crisp make a fine bacon replacement and in a recent tajine recipe I subbed chickpeas for lamb with no harm done. Sides on the side, I would hazard a guess, are an American concept born from the terrible maxim that the customer is always right. So while I am perfectly comfortable ordering a side or two instead of a main dish in the USA, I wouldn’t want to be seen in public with those who try to do the same thing in la France.

C’est comme ça.