Sunday, February 27, 2011

Where's The Beef?

This will be the one and only time I write about Oprah. Because the one and only time I watched an episode of Oprah, she cost me something I love (I’ll forgive her if she puts my book in Oprah’s Book Club!).

Two weeks before our trip to London, which is scheduled to commence this evening should the gods of New England weather be benevolent, my wife and I succumbed to The Queen of Television. She had not-so-subtly recommended (forced) her staff and audience to go Vegan for a week, citing the health benefits.

I was in the midst of shoveling dinner down my gullet. Instead of take the next bite, I not-so-subtly felt (pinched) a bit of my belly fat.

“Do you think it works?” I asked Danielle.

“Do I think what works?”

“Not eating meat.”

After she stopped not-so-subtly laughing (hysterically) at me, Danielle claimed she had no idea if a vegan lifestyle actually helped you lose weight or be healthier.

She followed up with, “But Probably. Why, do you wanna try it?”

After I stopped not-so-subtly laughing (hysterically) at her, I noticed the London travel guide six inches from my dinner plate. Stereotype took over my thinking and I remembered that England is a land not known for their culinary expertise. They put things like kidneys into pies, blood into sausage and figgies into pudding. Their food is world-renowned for it’s bland inadequacy. And none of it would fit on Oprah’s cafeteria menu, at least not during her healthy week.

They are a meat n’ potatoes nation. Which, despite my foodie tendencies, is fine with me. I am at heart a meat n’ potatoes kind of guy. I host a 200-person BBQ meat festival every summer. I’m currently researching ways to convert my smoker into a full-size pig-roasting rotisserie. If you can kill it, I’ll tenderize it, brine it and grill it. The Vegan or vegetarian way isn’t in my blood. It doesn’t compute with my linear thinking, my upbringing or my refined-Neanderthal palate.

London and I have something in common already.

And so we arrive back at Oprah (why does it always begin and end with Oprah?). When I saw that clip I felt challenged. Experimental. Intrigued. For some reason I wanted to prove that if an audience of middle-aged, overweight housewives from middle-America could do it, so could I (don’t ask why I felt that way - I’m still working through the anger). 

A one week detox period for Danielle and I. No meat, just vegetables, fruit, grain and fish (I had to throw in seafood or else my body would’ve rebelled like the Libyans). All in preparation for our week in England, where I anticipate a different series of culinary challenges, experiments and intrigue: Steak and Kidney pie? Sure. Blood sausage? Sounds delicious. A black rubber boot brined in Thames river water and finished with pureed pigeon beak? Needs salt, but bring it on.

And so today marks one week since Danielle and I have eaten meat. No chicken. No beef. No pork. None of the food staples I cook with most every night.

(Disclaimer: we have an overnight flight that will be serving dinner. I anticipate there being a choice of chicken or beef. However, I do not consider nor do scientists believe what I eat on the airplane over the Atlantic will actually be chicken or beef. Because the “meat” is a mystery, I consider it to be the meal that will bridge our week of no meat to our week of British food).

This was done all because of Oprah. Well, sort of. Maybe a little bit out of spite – damn Midwestern housewives.

Nevertheless, we added a few new recipes to our repertoire. Danielle and I both feel good, probably because we accomplished something and not because of any actual physical health benefits. And we now have justification for gorging like Midwestern American housewives on whatever pie or pudding those Brits drop in front of us.

More importantly, it left plenty of room for a few pints of ale.

Cheers, Oprah!

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