L has always been a caring, sensitive person, particularly when it comes to animals. It was always assumed that she would grow up to become a vet, a zoologist, or work with animals in some other way. This might have been the case had she not organised work experience at a local wildlife park. She’d arranged to spend a week there, but didn’t make it beyond the first day.
One of the first things L was asked to do was sort freshly killed baby chicks. She found it heart-breaking work. The chicks had been gassed, but some were not dead, and chirped pathetically amid the piles of tiny corpses. The people L worked with made stupid jokes about the job, particularly when they saw how upset she was. They jokingly told her that she would have to shoot and cut up a horse the following day. She didn’t go back to find out if they were telling the truth.
L was traumatised by the experience. She subsequently changed her mind about working with animals, and decided she would no longer eat meat. The problem she had with becoming a vegetarian was that she didn’t actually like vegetables. With no meat or vegetables, L was left eating bread, cereal and not much more. She has since tried become a vegetarian, and failed, on several occasions.
I’m not sure what brought on this latest attempt to convert to vegetarianism. It might have something to do with the chicken incident earlier in the year. In any case, a few weeks back, L announced that we were no longer eating meat. I said that I was happy with that, but asked that she organise and help cook the meals. I’m not that fond of meat myself and pleased to get any help in the kitchen. L sifted through a pile of cookbooks, wrote a lengthy shopping list, and helped buy the ingredients.
The first night L made a mushroom frittata. It was a bit thin and crumbly, but otherwise quite okay. That’s if you liked mushrooms. L tried very hard, but ended up eating around them. The second night we had a leek risotto. L spent all afternoon cooking the dish, and was so pleased with how it looked and smelled that she rang me at work to tell me how wonderful it was going to be. She was right; it did look and smell terrific. Unfortunately, eating the dish was hard work. The leek was thick and chunky, and the rice wasn’t cooked through properly. I ate half of my serving, while L only managed a few mouthfuls.
The week’s remaining meals were a little more successful, if not entirely satisfying. We had veggie burgers one night, then tomato, basil and fetta pizzas another night, and lastly honey-glazed potatoes. By the end of the week, L was tired and grumpy, and sick of working in the kitchen (I was tempted to point out that I’d been doing it for 16 years), and I was feeling more than a little hungry.
On Saturday night we bought chicken-and-chips from the local takeaway store.