Thursday, December 29, 2005

Vegan Panic

Christmas has come and gone....the kids have come and gone. It was wonderful having them here. There is nothing more rewarding than finally realizing that you've raised someone whom you truly enjoy spending time with. The days flew by much too quickly and I cried when I dropped them off at the airport. Joe even played Scrabble with us a time or two. ( Understand- this is the same kid who, three years ago when asked if he'd like to join us in a game, replied, "I'd sooner slit my wrists.") We spoke to my other two sons and their families on Christmas morning. Jeremy was on his way out the door to serve dinner to the homeless in his adopted state of Oregon and Jason and his family were going to visit his wife's family later in the day. They had spent Christmas Eve with my sister's family and my mother, after which he had gone to his friend's house and played Santa for the children. It makes me cry, but I think I did ok on the children-front. Single-parenting is not always easy and many times I am convinced that I scarred them irreversibly.......not this week, tho. This week I am just enjoying the fact that I love them and I think they love me back. Jeremy asked Joey to be in his wedding party in May.....both Jason and Joe will be standing up for him. Nice, yanno? These are the same kids that used to beat the hell out of one another on a daily basis just because they could.

So that was Christmas.....New Year's is not going to be so easy. Dan has invited his ex-girlfriend and her current boyfriend for dinner at our house on Monday. One one hand, it'll be nice to show the new condo off. We've been here almost 7 months now and we've only entertained people 4 times. (Ok, so we're horribly anti-social. We're mostly happy with the arrangement.) On the other hand, there's the ugly isue of "what do I make for dinner?" to deal with. Normally I'd be a little worked up just about having people over - simply because I'm not an "entertainer" sort of person. Martha Stewart, I'm not. Being from the Midwest, my idea of "dinner" is hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill.....and if it's winter, then a huge pot of sausage-laden spaghetti and a loaf of bread and butter. My four major food groups are beef, sugar, starch and chocolate. If a recipe doesn't contain one or more of those things, then I don't know how to cook it and I sure the hell don't want to eat it. I eat by sight....if it's orange or green, I don't touch it. This is even worse than my normal panic, tho - Dan's friends are strict Vegans. Not even just ordinary, eat-cheese-and-dairy variety vegetarians, mind you, but full-on "don't-eat-it-if-it-once-lived-or-could-have-lived" Vegans. No eggs, no butter, no cheese, no milk-by-products, no mayonaise type True Vegans.

I've been looking up recipes all morning. I don't even know what 90% of the necessary ingredients ARE, much less where to buy them!!! Tufu and Mongolian Fire Oil and TVP Chunks, and Yeasy Flakes and Tahini and Vegan Parmesan Cheeze. I'm close to hysterical just thinking about it, to be honest. I stress even doing things I know how to do when I have to do them around strangers.....this is almost beyond my coping capability. Even if I figure out what this stuff is, and where to buy it....and how to prepare on earth am I going to know if it tastes right? Normally you cook, you sample, you add or you subtract ingredients. But I have no idea how any of this is supposed to taste. (And that's assuming I'd be willing to taste it in the first place.....which I am not.)

And if I DO manage to find a recipe that I can manage, how do I explain why I am not eating with them? I was raised not to make people uncomfortable, and I'm pretty sure a hostess refusing to eat with you in her own home is going to be considered not only uncomfortable but also downright rude. Be that as it may, I just cant eat food I don't like or understand. And, honestly, why do I have to? Obviously they are not going to eat meat or dairy because they don't believe in it, but then again, (being ugly here) I don't believe in tofu and Yeasy flakes. I asked Dan if I could make two dinners, one for them and one for us, and he said ok, but I mentally vetoed that idea myself when he told me that it truly pains her to see animals being eaten in any way, shape or form. They held a barbecue last summer and actually included a link to vegan-approved beers in the invitation. So I either find a recipe that not only they can eat but one that I can also eat without getting sick - or the alternative is that I spend the evening green around the gills and excusing myself every now and then to go upstairs and quietly and unassumingly gag myself to death. Hardly the correct way to impress someone upon first meeting them, is it?

This is truly stressin' me. I'm notoriously ill at ease in social situations to begin with. I have a hard time relating to people in general and when it gets this specific, I feel honestly ill.

It's a shame, really, because I can char-broil a damn fine steak.


Michelle e o said...

I wish I could help you out here. Other than to tell you to slap Dan in the back of the head for inviting them for dinner I have no advice. You should have invited them over for drinks!! Made some finger foods, which would have been much easier.

I think it says a lot about you that you are stressing over making them comfortable though. You're a wonderful person.

Lo said...

I think it's going to be ok...Dan says he'll do the shopping AND the cooking...and I said I'll eat frozen White Castles before they get here, eat two carrot sticks and a piece of lettuce at dinner and then offer up some excuse about terminal flatuence if I eat too many veggies at dinner time. I was so stressed last night that I made him take me to Mickey D's for a Big Mac when he got home from work. He laughed at me. I hate it when he laughs at me. I showed him, tho, I ate the whole thing and didn't offer him my left overs.