arroz con frijoles

I was vegetarian for seven years.  This is how it happened:

When I was in seventh grade my sister had a stroke.  Specifically, she had an arterio-venal malformation, which is when a big vein and a little vein go together and the little vein can’t take the pressure over time so it explodes.  Or something.  My sister collapsed after tug of war at Field Day, was rushed to the hospital and underwent an incredibly risky brain surgery to remove the bleeding.

That week, in 1997, the Dalai Lama happened to be in Los Angeles.  Thanks to this twist of fate and a couple of degrees of separation, on the day of my sister’s second (less risky but still terrifying) surgery, the Dalai Lama was carrying around a picture of my sister and praying for her recovery.  I thought that was cool.  I still think it’s cool.  At the time I thought that as a token of gratitude I should probably become Buddhist.  Now, in 1997 there weren’t a lot of Buddhists in Maine.  That has probably changed due to the hippiefication of Portland, but even so there weren’t terribly many resources for a 12-year-old who wanted to be Buddhist.  In fact, about the only thing I knew about Buddhism was they were vegetarian.

Ergo, I stopped eating meat, lobster, the delectable tiny Maine shrimp that are mind blowing with butter and garlic, all of it.  It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.  I was incredibly picky to begin with, subsisting primarily on spaghetti with butter and the occasional chicken nugget, so it just added a few more things to the long list of things I would not eat.

Fast forward seven years, when I was nineteen and running like hell to escape the insanity that is New York City.  I was running 30 miles a week or so and started getting an uncontrollable craving for chicken that I just could not fight.  I dragged my friend Vicki to this place in Midtown that supposedly had the best grilled chicken in the city and ordered a gigantic salad with a full chicken breast on it.  Not the half one but the double kind.  It was the best thing I had ever tasted.  I promptly got sick for three days but damn was it worth it.

These days I eat most things.  Except green peppers, those I cannot stand.  But I just read In Defense of Food and have jumped on the eat less meat bandwagon, although somewhat half heartedly.

Last night for the first time in awhile I made rice and beans.  I had a bunch of onions and garlic, so I browned those up and then added 2 cans of black beans.  I had a couple of ears of corn in the fridge so de-eared them and threw in the kernels.  I also put in some salsa, the pico kind with the big chunks of tomatoes, a little Marie Sharps hot sauce, crushed red pepper, black pepper and salt.  I served the beans over rice pilaf, sprinkled a little cheese on top and nuked a few corn tortillas.  The end result was delicious.

It almost made me think about going full on veg again.

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