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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Meatless in the Mideast

I have, for a long time now, questioned my right to eat meat. If I do not, or could not, kill an animal, what gives me the right to eat one? For that matter, what gives me the right to kill one? This question being at varying depths below the surface of my daily diet, for years I have quietly ignored the dissonance as I dive into a pile of bacon or a dry-aged bone-in ribeye. I have also often rationalized it as a professional necessity: what kind of cook would I be if I didn't know as much as I could about meat?

Well, I finally did something about it. This year, for ten weeks now, we have been trying not so much to be Vegetarians (daunting as it sounds), but to start the process of changing our eating habits: less meat, more grains, more vegetables. We still eat fish, and I won't say that as springtime rolls around I won't be grilling burgers, but a shift is underway. We'll see where it takes us.

For now, though, a Middle Eastern extravaganza that satisfies both the palate and the conscience: first, my take on something I never thought I would even be in the same room with: the veggie burger. I coooked some chick peas and mashed them up with onions, garlic, spices and fresh herbs, a little bit of egg and some ground oats: grilled falafel for the burger lover. 

Next a salad of grilled vegetables, charred and sweet, with oregano and chives. A cooling yogurt (yes, homemade) condiment studded with cucumber and redolent of fresh mint.

And a good ol' fashioned tabbouleh: steamed bulghur with loads of chopped parsley, lots of lemon juice, and plenty of olive oil.

Where's the beef? Tonight, who cares?

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