One day she’ll eat normal [sic] again.

20 Nov

The Veggieducken

Normal-LY, Aunt Opinion. One day, I may once again eat normalLY.

Or what you consider normal, at any rate.

Thanksgiving and other family holiday meals are always awash with family politics disguised in the delegation of certain foods to certain people. The cranberry muffins are the purview of Aunt Opinion regardless of who’s hosting because they are her thing. My mom always brings the pie because, well, her pies are the best. At Christmas, my other aunt will always show up with the homemade Eggnog we love to throw away. In the case of my family – the non-delegation of foodstuffs is also fast-becoming a point of contention.

Because of moi.

About two years ago I started disdaining meat and eating what the rest of my family refers to as rabbit food. Coming from good Pennsylvania-Dutch and/or Southern backgrounds, they just can’t understand why I would ever give up the focal point of all our holiday meals.

Penny: I’m a vegetarian. You’re not? Ok! That’s fine. I can’t fathom what you possibly find appetizing about turkey, chicken, pork, etc. (steak or prime rib… ehhh, I have to give you those; also maybe bacon), but really – go forth and eat animals with my blessing. Just don’t expect me to join you because vegetables are so much more delicious.

Family: You don’t eat meat? It’s ok! I’ll make lamb. (Skip to 4:10)

Penny: Mmmmmkay.

My Aunt Opinion, however, still holds out hope.

While they wait in vain for me to once again pick up the steak knife, family meals and holidays have become a battleground of love and guilt. They go out of their way to accommodate my abnormal eating habits, and I insist they really could just make some extra broccoli and keep some sauerkraut separate from the pork and call it a day.

They have enough going on what with the Turkey and the fixings and preparing to feed a small army. And, to be honest, it’s Thanksgiving – I may not want Turkey, but I also don’t want zucchini smothered in tomato sauce and mozzarella.

But they make it anyway.

And I eat it anyway because special effort was made to make a vegetarian dish for me and it would be rude to do what I really want, which is to eat ALL THE CARBS and ignore the non sequitur Italian side dish.

Last year I decreed that I was bringing butternut squash soup and intended to use that as a way to alleviate the burden of my non-meat-eating-self.

I had to eat the damn zucchini anyway.

So, this year when I asked what I could bring I took them at their word: “nothing”.

Because in my family, as mentioned previously, we show love by cooking for each other. Someone is sick? This calls for food. You are making someone’s favorite soup? You make extra. It’s a birthday? You make cake.

While it may be my inclination to show my love this Thanksgiving by trying to lift some of their burden, doing so will, paradoxically, make my aunts feel less appreciated, less loved and less needed.

So, here’s to soggy zucchini baked in pizza sauce seeping into my vegetarian stuffing for many years to come.

(Ideal world: No turkey, everyone eats Veggieducken.)


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