Mindful Metropolis November 2011 : Page 50

life, etc An Unlikely Hero by maureen c. ewing t is widely accepted and venerated that as a vegan of 16 years, I am the family oddity. Any serious discussion of my eating habits usually involves the comment, “Don’t you think vegetables have feelings, too?” As a vegetarian, Thanksgiving gives me the most trouble. While Christmas centers around presents, Thanksgiving is all about food. Start with the desserts. Lemon meren-gue—half-and-half and egg go a long way. Banana-cream pie—a virtual masterpiece of dairy products. Grandma’s acclaimed pound cake—all butter—which nobody eats but divvies up to take home. Then, the side dishes. Traditional green-bean casserole mixed with cream soup. A plain iceberg-lettuce salad. Potato dishes: double baked with bacon and cheese on top, potato skins with more bacon and cheese, and corn flake potatoes cooked with, yes, cheese. Last but not least, the turkey and stuff-ing—the most awaited part of the meal. Out come the innards, in goes Great Grandma’s legendary stuffing. Then, this symbol of American gratitude is greased from neck to butt with peanut oil. Finally, onto the grill for hours of slow-cooked holiday magic. My family will never eat all this food, but it’s all intentional: leftovers. If the average 20 people show up for dinner, mom might even cook a second bird to ensure leftovers. When the turkey comes out, I don’t know what to do with myself. If I was Hermoine from the Harry Potter books, I might swish my wand and resurrect it. If I was a more radical activist, I would kidnap the turkey and run down the street, laughing maniacal-ly and denying my family their centerpiece. Since I am neither, I put in my two cents worth of, “You should really start buying free-range,” and leave the rest in peace. I watch my solitary vegan self amid this carnivorous preparation and wonder how i I could ever con-vince anyone in my family to abandon this holy tradition. I don’t ponder too long, as hell will never freeze over and turkeys will nev-er fly. On Thanksgiving in 2002, I found myself facing the ultimate vegan crisis. It’s a perfect Thanksgiving day: the clear sky radiates a calming blue, and the slight nip in the air is the only reminder that winter is fashionably late. As usual, we make runs back and forth to the store: cream-of-mushroom soup, crackers, more butter, a forgotten spice. On this particular holiday, dad and the boys sit in front of televisions and mom leaves for another last-minute errand. I start working on my meal: tempeh peanut stir-fry. As I cook, I keep an eye on the grill out-side, expecting A Christmas Story scenario, where the neighbor’s dogs steal the turkey and ruin the holiday. As I stand at the kitchen sink, eyeing the road for familiar cars, something catches my eye. As if in slow motion, I turn to the grill and see flames. Even I know this is far worse than the dogs. I run outside, yelling, “The turkey’s on fire,” flip open the grill, and sure enough, the wings blaze and stuffing spits out like firecrackers. I suddenly wonder, “Is this a practical joke?” I face a vegetarian dilemma: what to do with this flaming bird? I quickly go through the possibilities: the bird is dead, so saving it from the fire will not save its life. Would its death be in vain if it perished in the flames? Should I let it burn to a crisp? Wouldn’t it serve my family right to go without it? I pic-ture myself standing over the turkey, watching it burn away. I am a vegetarian with tongs in one hand, oven mitt in the other, and no one coming to save the turkey. Suddenly, I find myself doing the unimag-inable—becoming a hero. Laughter seems the perfect accompaniment as I begin to wrestle the bird from carnage. As I reach for it, another stuffing bomb sizzles and flames. The big, awkward bird fights me as I try to finagle its freedom. I take a good look at it and find myself saying, “No wonder people eat you. You’re so damn ugly.” I then realize I have nowhere to put it once I save it. I simply can’t carry this 15 pound hot bird into the house. I run inside to grab a pan (nobody in the house moves when I yell again) and make it out just as it spits out more stuffing. If my Great Grandma was alive, she would surely tell this turkey off for wasting her masterpiece. It slips and slides as I put out the enflamed wings just as rela-tives begin to arrive. I revel in my unexpected heroism, but no-body seems that impressed by my actions. It seems I just did what any real American would do in that situation. Thanksgiving would not be Thanksgiving without a turkey. As I cook my vegan meal, I wonder who would save the tempeh if given the chance. In the end, I am left only with a good story. There are no leftovers on my plate. Maureen Ewing is on staff at Mindful Metropolis. 50 november 2011

Life, Etc

Maureen C. Ewing

An Unlikely Hero<br /> <br /> It is widely accepted and venerated that as a vegan of 16 years, I am the family oddity.Any serious discussion of my eating habits usually involves the comment, “Don’t you think vegetables have feelings, too?” <br /> <br /> As a vegetarian, Thanksgiving gives me the most trouble. While Christmas centers around presents, Thanksgiving is all about food.<br /> <br /> Start with the desserts. Lemon merengue— half-and-half and egg go a long way.Banana-cream pie—a virtual masterpiece of dairy products. Grandma’s acclaimed pound cake—all butter—which nobody eats but divvies up to take home.<br /> <br /> Then, the side dishes. Traditional greenbean casserole mixed with cream soup. A plain iceberg-lettuce salad. Potato dishes: double baked with bacon and cheese on top, potato skins with more bacon and cheese, and corn flake potatoes cooked with, yes, cheese.<br /> <br /> Last but not least, the turkey and stuffing— the most awaited part of the meal. Out come the innards, in goes Great Grandma’s legendary stuffing. Then, this symbol of American gratitude is greased from neck to butt with peanut oil. Finally, onto the grill for hours of slow-cooked holiday magic.<br /> <br /> My family will never eat all this food, but it’s all intentional: leftovers. If the average 20 people show up for dinner, mom might even cook a second bird to ensure leftovers.<br /> <br /> When the turkey comes out, I don’t know what to do with myself. If I was Hermoine from the Harry Potter books, I might swish my wand and resurrect it. If I was a more radical activist, I would kidnap the turkey and run down the street, laughing maniacally and denying my family their centerpiece.Since I am neither, I put in my two cents worth of, “You should really start buying free-range,” and leave the rest in peace.<br /> <br /> I watch my solitary vegan self amid this carnivorous preparation and wonder how I could ever convince anyone in my family to abandon this holy tradition. I don’t ponder too long, as hell will never freeze over and turkeys will never fly.<br /> <br /> On Thanksgiving in 2002, I found myself facing the ultimate vegan crisis. It’s a perfect Thanksgiving day: the clear sky radiates a calming blue, and the slight nip in the air is the only reminder that winter is fashionably late. As usual, we make runs back and forth to the store: cream-of-mushroom soup, crackers, more butter, a forgotten spice.<br /> <br /> On this particular holiday, dad and the boys sit in front of televisions and mom leaves for another last-minute errand. I start working on my meal: tempeh peanut stirfry.As I cook, I keep an eye on the grill outside, expecting A Christmas Story scenario, where the neighbor’s dogs steal the turkey and ruin the holiday.<br /> <br /> As I stand at the kitchen sink, eyeing the road for familiar cars, something catches my eye. As if in slow motion, I turn to the grill and see flames. Even I know this is far worse than the dogs.<br /> <br /> I run outside, yelling, “The turkey’s on fire,” flip open the grill, and sure enough, the wings blaze and stuffing spits out like firecrackers.I suddenly wonder, “Is this a practical joke?”<br /> <br /> I face a vegetarian dilemma: what to do with this flaming bird? I quickly go through the possibilities: the bird is dead, so saving it from the fire will not save its life. Would its death be in vain if it perished in the flames?Should I let it burn to a crisp? Wouldn’t it by maureen c. ewing serve my family right to go without it? I picture myself standing over the turkey, watching it burn away.I am a vegetarian with tongs in one hand, oven mitt in the other, and no one coming to save the turkey.<br /> <br /> Suddenly, I find myself doing the unimaginable— becoming a hero. Laughter seems the perfect accompaniment as I begin to wrestle the bird from carnage. As I reach for it, another stuffing bomb sizzles and flames.The big, awkward bird fights me as I try to finagle its freedom. I take a good look at it and find myself saying, “No wonder people eat you. You’re so damn ugly.” <br /> <br /> I then realize I have nowhere to put it once I save it. I simply can’t carry this 15 pound hot bird into the house. I run inside to grab a pan (nobody in the house moves when I yell again) and make it out just as it spits out more stuffing. If my Great Grandma was alive, she would surely tell this turkey off for wasting her masterpiece. It slips and slides as I put out the enflamed wings just as relatives begin to arrive.<br /> <br /> I revel in my unexpected heroism, but nobody seems that impressed by my actions.It seems I just did what any real American would do in that situation. Thanksgiving would not be Thanksgiving without a turkey.<br /> <br /> As I cook my vegan meal, I wonder who would save the tempeh if given the chance.In the end, I am left only with a good story.There are no leftovers on my plate.

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