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13 April 2006
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Learning to Like Your Veggies

A lot of people don't bother about their friends in the vegetable kingdom. They think: Oh, ah, what can I say? What can a person like myself say to a vegetable? (Call Any Vegetable - Frank Zappa)

I most ashamedly admit to having been one of those people.  Despite the manifest benefits of consuming the subject of Zappa's song (look up the lyrics where he details some of them), I never really gave veggies much thought.  Sure, when they appeared on a plate I would eat them, or at least make food art.  But never did I say "More Brussels sprouts, please!"  When contemplating the prospect of a nice dinner out, I would not mentally catalog the "sides" and debate with myself the relative merits of broccoli or cauliflower.  (The occasional wisp of au gratin would float through the cranial passages, I must admit.)

It seems my friends in the vegetable kingdom had plans for me.  It started innocently enough...

"Let's go out to dinner," suggested a human female whom I kind of liked.  Sure!  Agreed her boss, who was paying and, alas, returning them both to their geographically undesirable haunts later that evening.  We, which is to say, they, decided on a "vegetarian" restaurant.  Gamely this intrepid foodie adventurer agreed to attend.  And an adventure it was!  I had never conceived of such vegetablic possibilities, and my memory even now confabulates the gastronomic and oddly geometric confections that were in store that fateful evening.  I left the restaurant with a new appreciation of our little green and yellow buddies!

I had additional close encounters...

There is a "vegetarian Chinese restaurant" nearby.  Its menu comprises the normal staples of such establishments, but the actual food items, e.g., chicken, shrimp, beef, etc., are incredible simulacra.  While many items are truly "incredible" in the sense that they are not believable, I was surprised to find that the crispy fish tasted like crispy fish! 

A friend who is a vegetarian occasionally has gets-together at his house.  The food is enthusiastically consumed by all. 

And finally:  It is my pleasure and privilege to have a housemate who is keen on a food substance called "pesto."  She will often use this in the preparation of more appetizing items, e.g., pasta.  After a long period of refraining from consuming such, I realized that I was missing out on a lot of pasta!  Moreover, when I would chide her about the lack of consumable forms of pasta, I received derision instead of sympathy.  I decided that the easiest solution was to like pesto.  I accomplished this.  It was much easier than expected, and it has opened whole new sections of the refrigerator to my grasp.

And the point of all this?  Vegetables are good for you.  Everybody says so, even Frank Zappa, and if he's changed his mind we'll never know.    Vegetables may be a good part of the reason you're reading this now, since who knows how long I might have survived on my childhood diet.  (Yes, I suppose in that respect at least they're doing you no favors.)  The one scary thing, however, is that I think this dietetic drift may be an indication that I'm "growing up."  This was never my intention and remains a concern.  I'm sure I'll display counterevidence in future screeds.
 

2006
Richard Factor