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FOODATARIANS—PURE AND NOT SO SIMPLE

I AM A vegetarian, except for sausage. Wife Dottie considers herself a pescetarian, avoiding land-based meat but accepting protein from the sea. For a while there, Daughter Suz would eat nothing that had a face, though I’m not sure why this disqualified her eating shrimp. While Daughter Beth was growing up in the Caribbean, she adored shrimp, “fish with handles,” she called them.

These gastronomic proclivities got me thinking about various food preferences. Here’s a brief glossary, with no attempt at completeness and perhaps even less than equitable treatment of topics.

One more confession: When I was a kid, my ideal peanut butter and jelly sandwich was served on three plates. Until I discovered Chinese cuisine, I didn’t like food to touch: an “isolatarian”?

M

Chopsticks Recipes Vegetarian Dishes, by Cecilia J. Au-Yeung, Chopstick Publications, 1988.

If ever you seek encouragement to let food touch, look no further than Chinese cuisine. A favorite example comes from a cookbook published in Kowloon, Hong Kong, Chopstick Recipes Vegetarian Dishes, by Cecilia J. Au-Yueng.

Recipe

Humans are omnivores, from the Latin: everything eaters. Many of our primate relatives are opportunistically omnivores as well, not the image of purely nuts-and-berries types often portrayed.

The earliest vegetarians lived in ancient India and in southern Italy and Greece. Generally, their eschewing meat (what a funny verb to use!) was part of nonviolence toward animals, often promoted by religious beliefs.

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Saint Wulfstan in the Goodman window of England’s Worcester Cathedral. Image from worcestercathedral.blogspot.

Saint Wulfstan, 1007 – 1095, Bishop of Worcester, was heavy into voluntary privation and is the Catholic patron saint of vegetarians and dieters. He turned to strict vegetarianism because he found it difficult to resist the smell of roasted goose. Paradoxically enough, this is similar to what made me a sausagetarian.

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At left, Leonardo da Vinci, 1452 – 1510. At right, Benjamin Franklin, 1706 – 1790. Both were vegetarians at one time or another.

Leonardo da Vinci advocated vegetarianism, largely on ethical motivation. Some 250 years later, Benjamin Franklin chose a vegetarian diet at age 16, but it’s said he eventually returned to meat eating. I suspect Ben may have been a closet sausagetarian.

Pescetarianism is an interesting word, a portmanteau, a linguistic blend of existing words. The “pesce” is related to the Spanish pescado/fish. The rest of the word is cribbed from the English “vegetarianism.”

For a long time, and continuing in some practices, Roman Catholics were Friday pescetarians. I’m reminded of my Cleveland youth, when Dad and I would religiously go to Victory Lunch, a neighborhood eatery, precisely on 12:00 a.m. Saturday to fetch our fast-breaking hotdogs, with mustard and onions, please. And don’t forget the fries, big thick ones crammed into cylindrical takeout containers. We didn’t have the term “ranch fries” back then, but that’s what they were.

In retrospect, I confess that my meatless Fridays weren’t exactly the penitential activity intended by Holy Mother the Church. Unless I counted eating those haplessly limp fish sticks, rather than the lobster with drawn butter that Mom favored for Friday dinners.

The Vegan Society defines veganism as “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. From ‘junk food vegans’ to raw food vegans, and everything in between, there’s a version of veganism to suit everyone. We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience.”

VeganLogo

Not unrelated to this gastronomic, sartorial and general-life experience is the concept of being a locavore, as in local sourcing of food. Locavorism has a recent history dating from 2005; indeed, “locavore” was chosen 2007 Word of the Year by the Oxford American Dictionary.

Jessica Prentice, Dede Sampson and Sage Van Wing, three women from the San Francisco Bay Area, came up with a challenge of eating only those foods grown or harvested within a 100-mile radius of San Francisco.

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There’s a lot of good food sourcing within 100 miles of San Francisco.

Given that Gilroy, the Garlic Capital of the World, is only 78 miles southeast, that Monterey Bay calamari is tantalizingly near, and that cioppino was invented there, I could buy into San Franciscan locavorism.

Before committing to it down our way, I’d require some research about a circle based in my home Orange County, California. And I confess I had no idea where Cleveland’s Victory Lunch got its potatoes, hot dogs, mustard or onions. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2016

2 comments on “FOODATARIANS—PURE AND NOT SO SIMPLE

  1. Bob DuBois
    August 2, 2016

    Your comment of waiting till precisely midnight,Friday night,to get a hot dog reminded me of my high school days in Long Beach. Our high school football games were on Friday nights. Well, they always ended around 10-10:30 PM. So we would go to the local miniature golf course and play a round till midnight. If we got to the 17th hole and it was still,too early, we’d sneak back and play a few extra holes,,so we could make it to midnight, and head to the local drive-in restaurant hangout for a hamburger and shake. Good memories!!

  2. Mark W
    August 3, 2016

    I think I just came up with a new diet; “historitarian”, which (especially important for us Old Guys, whose memory goes back a few years) allows certain items because of historical precedence.

    Ok items include: burgers (on occasion, maybe less than before), hotdogs (and corn- dogs, related to sausagatarians?, but maybe now chicken or turkey?), lean steaks (small size, cooked appropriately), salads (but with chicken). Fried potatoes (esp shoe-string variety; not too much and not too late, of course). Apple pies (no longer on the window-sill, but out of the freezer…).

    Not-OK items are: broccoli, (stereotypical, I know, but still icky), vegan fake butter and pancakes (a verifiable gastronomic nightmare), garden-burgers (unless swathed in ketchup, mustard and pickles).

    All acceptable items include a soothing sip of good bourbon and a reflective look back at when food was simpler……

    Cheers

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