I stopped eating beef because of a magnet. It’s true. We we’re having a Sunday dinner of tri-tip when I happened to glance at my cow magnet that said, “Eat Chicken.” The magnet had been a facetious purchase of mine since our household was made up of enthusiastic meat eaters (if you’ve ever heard my dad wax poetic about the steak he had in 1988, you’d know what I mean). So it was a shock to everyone that this magnet wielded its mystical bovine power and caused me to spit out the piece of partially chewed dead flesh and decry eating beef. Then it was pork, and in college I became a full on vegetarian.
Vegetarianism didn’t do much for me health-wise, but it really helped in illuminating the characteristics of a good man. In college I had two serious relationships: one with Richard, one with Steve. Both love a good steak, both had a very different reaction to my choices. Richard accepted non-meat eating and healthy habits in general, but somewhere along the line my vegetables, tofu, barks, and twigs began to brew resentment in him. This was weird, since I didn’t care one way or the other if he ate animals. Just because I was a vegetarian didn’t mean that he had to be. I was a bit taken aback to receive phone calls with him gloating, “I’m eating a steak. With eggs.” And, “Do you know what I ate for dinner last night? A steak.” It was as if he were taunting me, testing me to see what I was going to do about it. What I did about it was say, “Good for you!” before dissolving into confusion. Really? What had I done exactly to deserve this? Did anyone deserve this? This behavior combined with others led to me saying that ubiquitous line, “Let’s just be friends. No, how about acquaintances?”
If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, then Steve understood that the way to a woman’s heart is to enjoy the food she places before him. The very first meal I made for him was Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos and homemade Pineapple Buttermilk sorbet for dessert. He enjoyed it (and I have made it since). Not a dead cow or a bowl of au jus in sight. He also ate a less successful meal of lentils and artichokes over pasta, and also any medley of vegetables, legumes and pasta I put in front of him. When calling to make dinner reservations, he would ask if there were vegetarian entrees available, and if not, could the chef make something? He supported my healthy habits by making sure he always had orange juice on hand. Once I gave up on vegetarianism for my tendency to be anemic and added poultry and seafood to my personal food pyramid, he learned to cook chicken in a variety of ways. What did I do about it? I married him.
Readers, what horror/sweet stories do you have about dating and food?