Monday, June 30, 2014

     Alright, so I've had the what-is-this blog, the writing blog, and now? A food blog? Really? Well, yes. And I apologize for it. I truly do. You will find no tips, no hints, no special, time-tested recipes here, oh no. What you will find, hopefully, is just me, May. Making meat.
     I became a vegetarian when I was twelve, went vegan a few times, started eating fish again in my twenties (gah! don't we hate the term "pescatarian"? it sounds like some offshoot religious sect we are embarrassed to tell our friends and neighbors that our daughters converted to. "Oh, my daughter? Yes, yes, she's doing well! Married a nice boy! They're... ahem... pescatarians. Nice folks, mostly.") and that's where I am now, at 36. I am a 36 year-old woman and I have never that I can recall, cooked meat. Aside from, you know, a hot dog or something. My mother is an amazing cook, the best. I never had to learn to cook until I turned, and then it was only on the nights that were more meat oriented, and those were not often. She's one of those women who make a simple meal of fresh baked bread, salad, green beans and potatoes from the garden, corn on the cob, stewed tomatoes, and chicken. Maybe bbq chicken or arroz con pollo or even pork or perhaps some beef thing or there might be ham hock in the pinto beans or flautas or shrimp, or perhaps tuna casserole or maybe a meatloaf or it might be chili or whatever, Mama made food from scratch every single night. If there was meat, there were at least two sides. Still does. We have an adopted brother who tries to dream up new holidays just to force Mama to make a ham. No lie. Even though she said she wouldn't make two meals every night when I told her I was not eating meat any more, she stopped putting ham hock in the beans and greens, she started using vegetable stock instead of chicken or beef stock. Mama feeds her babies, always. Even on Thanksgiving there is a dish of vegetarian stuffing just for me, God bless her. I fucking love stuffing.
     I digress. Anyhoo, I became a relatively good cook in my own right. At one time I even ran a small vegetarian deli and made a vegan entree, soup, and dessert every day, along with the cold salads and sandwiches we provided. That was a long time ago. Even with the vegetarian cooking, I'm out of practice. Lately I eat a lot of broccoli. Salads. Avocados. Let's be honest- scrambled eggs make up a large portion of my diet. Blah. Sometimes I go crazy! and eat all the snacks I can buy at the Circle K!! Snacks are delicious!! They make them in all the flavors!!!! For the past few years I chalked up my cooking ennui to a work related exhaustion. I am a waitress. I worked something like 50- 65 hours in restaurants hustling food. Doing my best to soft shoe shimmy those specials out the kitchen and into mouths. Food filled my brain, my words, my clothes (there's nothing better than discovering that you have been wearing whipped cream under your boob for 10 hours), my eyes.... Last thing I wanted to do was dirty up a bunch of pots and pans just to feed myself.
       Then my main job, the restaurant I had given my heart and mind to for the past six years, closed. Suddenly. I mean, there were all the signs, it wasn't like we'd gotten paid in a while or anything, but I somehow thought we'd pull out of it. Or maybe I didn't have time to think, I was working a lot. A few months before it closed however, something lovely happened. I fell in love with one of my coworkers. We'd worked together for years, I hired the man for god's sake (don't you judge me). It was one of those bolt out of the blue, chick flick, rom-com ridiculous things where all of a sudden that guy, my buddy, was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. All he had to do was kiss me at the employee Christmas party. (Seriously, even as you are puking in your own mouth don't you fucking judge me.) Next thing you know we are both unemployed (actually, I have a part time job at a darling little cafe, but it doesn't pay the bills) and living together. Life is a hoot, am I right? I'm right.
          My man eats meat. Mostly meat. He can live off a package of roast beef and a gallon of milk for days. When the restaurant was open he ate most of his meals there, and so there would be the occasional vegetable involved (arugula on a sandwich, asparagus alongside a ribeye), but even then more often than not he would order sides: mac n cheese, mashed potatoes, chicken tenders. I took heart when he first came to my Mama's house and ate the collard greens, fish, and pintos that she cooked. "That was the best meal I've had in a long, long time" he said, hand on belly, leaned back. "Will you make me collard greens some day?"
       "Yes," I said.
         Love makes you do crazy things, doesn't it? I've had boyfriends I yelled at because they used my pots to make pork. Now, faced with this other-thing, this beautiful rangy sweet sweet meat eating thing, all I can think is, "I want to feed you". More primal than sex, that. Perhaps.
       "Will you make me fried chicken one day?" he asked.
        "Yes," I said.
       So. I will learn to make meat. I will pull out my virginal, vegetarian pots and pans, I will reach into my primal guts, I will remember how to do what I have seen done a million times before, I will call my Mama. I will not use recipes (because that is not an adventure) but instead will go on instinct and advice. I will dirty up this damn kitchen, I will let the blood run down my arms. There will probably be tears before it's over. No matter what though, I am feeding this man. Let the adventure begin.