Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Pescetarian Phase

Old habits die hard. 

After grandly declaring my conversion from vegetarianism, I have spent the past five days as a pescetarian.  As I had suspected, eating fish is not that difficult, as long as it doesn’t have bones in it.  It can actually be quite enjoyable.  I enjoyed the quinoa and salmon salad from Cojean (which I’ve previously rhapsodized over) I had for lunch the other day.  The curried quinoa was moist and dense, the salmon fatty and pink – a lovely shade of pink I haven’t seen on my plate in years.  It was strange to have to use a knife to cut the flesh, which sometimes came apart easily and sometimes resisted.  I guess I haven’t had to hone my knife-wielding prowess much over the years.  But, despite my poor motor skills, I finished my salad.  And I enjoyed the feeling of protein-laden fullness it gave me – a fullness peculiarly different from that attained from eating plants alone. 

I don’t have the same moral qualms about eating fish as I do about eating other animals.  As a pescetarian friend said when I saw her recently in Madrid, “I know I can kill a fish without feeling too depressed.  But I think that if I killed a cow I’d feel really, really depressed.” 

And yet eating cows is what normal people do.  “This is what normal people do,” I keep telling myself, trying to work up the gumption to take the grilled chicken salad from the shelves of Cojean.  Yesterday I took my usual pasta salad with grilled vegetables and mozzarella instead. Even the salmon doesn’t feel normal to me yet.

It takes constant vigilance to be a vegetarian.  Vegetarians’ minds must always be whirring when they are around food, their eyes always darting from plate to plate.  The surveillance was never a burden to me – I’d gotten so used to it that, until now, I wasn’t really aware that I was doing it.  It’s difficult to shut all that off, to relax, to just eat.

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