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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”?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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