Saturday, February 18, 2012

Vegan, Southern Fried

Are you a sucker for those 'southern food group' jokes? ---the ones defining what constitutes a food group in the Southern diet? The groups vary according to what Southern state you are in at the moment. In Alabama, the four groups are pork lard, white flour, caffeine, and sugar. In Kentucky, you have to add bourbon. In North Carolina, the lard morphs into barbecue. In Virginia, it becomes Virginia ham.

My husband has convinced the house to go vegan for the next six weeks. And not any garden variety vegan. This is cold turkey, bite the bullet, cold sweats kind of whole grain/ real veggies/ no-processed-foods-or-oils kind of vegan. Except he still gets to drink all the coffee he wants. And he's not in love with the word 'vegan' and prefers to call it 'plant based' instead. After all, he is not taking a moral high road here. He's not ashamed of his lifelong addiction to bacon. He just wants to give his body a break is all. He is a charming man, laid back. He had us watch a documentary promoting this kind of diet. At the end, he smiled at us and said "Let's do it." He could sell a bald man a lifetime supply of haircuts.

That was four weeks ago, and for the last four weeks I have been hungry. Who knew what a role cheese played in my life? This food plan does not even allow the fake soybean created cheese. Not that I would consider eating it.

My day goes something like this. Arise and cook oatmeal. Make large food carrier of a variety of foods for husband's work day. Work hungry. Eat unsatisfying combinations of healthy foods that don't necessarily taste like anything I've ever eaten before. Work hungry some more. Shop for healthy raw plant food. Prepare healthy raw plant food from scratch. Eat something prepared in a blender and made of foods I have never before pronounced. Clean up kitchen. Go to bed hungry.

That's a good day.

At the two week mark, I was depressed. It was Friday night. I was tired of cooking. I was hungry but nothing seemed worth eating. My husband WENT INTO THE KITCHEN. He stuffed mushroom caps with mashed avocado and topped them off with two capers and a few drops of fresh lime juice. He offered me one.

Such a comedian.

What I have learned is this. He plans to continue this regimen indefinitely. I have learned to make red spaghetti sauce and red chili with TVP (textured vegetable protein) that tastes somewhat like the real stuff. If TVP suddenly gets crossed off the allowed food list, I am in deep trouble. Woman cannot live on vegetable soup and water alone. Southern girls love their veggies, but some of them also like their bacon, sugar, white flour, bourbon, barbecue, and Virginia ham.

Not to mention pizza, grilled grouper, real butter on baked potatoes, and crab cakes. And fried oyster salad. Oh my goodness, fried oyster salad.

And those incredible raw milk cheeses from the Virginia highlands, and that belle chevre from right up the road here in North Alabama.

What a woman will do for love.

The only thing that keeps me going in this bruised bleak beat-down February is the hope of fried green tomatoes, which I plan to blog about next.


Eleanor said...

Bless your heart!! Life's too short to eat someone else's experiment, but you are a sweet wife for supporting Ed!

Jeanie Thompson said...

Hey, when I ate a very clean diet (not THAT clean, though) I was hungry all the time, too, but like a monk I felt it was a sign of suffering into salvation (i.e. health), or something. Now I'm sitting here actually thinking about the box of Moon Pies in my cupboard that a really unhealthy friend gave me for my birthday. If I eat one, I'll eat another one for you! (They're the mini's.)
Seriously, I'm proud of you, and just think how great you'll feel when you put on those spring Capri pants. :-)

Anita Miller Garner said...

"Food" and "monk" are not two words that belong in the same sentence. I do not start each day hoping my food will make me feel like a monk. This is probably why I outweigh you, Jeanie, by approximately 200 pounds and always have LOL. I also rarely ponder the 'live to eat' or 'eat to live' question, knowing my life is the latter and holding no hope of taking the high road. But I respect your right to exercise mind over belly :)

Jeanie Thompson said...

All well-known diets advise people to "cheat" occasionally so that the suffering will be mitigated. I trust you two have a tasty cheating moment planned on this diet! I also admire you and Edward for the tenancy to try "mindful eating"! You go. girl and boy!

Regan - The Professional Palate said...

If you guys ever fall off the wagon, I will buy you the biggest, best block of Cheddar that Cabot makes ;-)

Anita Miller Garner said...

@Regan: it is 4:30 in the afternoon and I have been at work since 7:15. Just hearing the word 'cheddar' makes me smile at sweet memories.

Carter Monroe said...

Jazz said...

I bought a real wedge of hoop type cheddar the other day. I don't recall how many ounces it was, certainly somewhere short of a pound, and it was $8 plus.*L But it was worth every penny of it, though in the future I need to savor such tidbits more and not gobble them up in one fell swoop.

One of my late dad's worst WW2 memories was of an old farmer somewhere in Germany of Belgium and his refusal to surrender his huge wheel of cheese. The old man died for that cheese, and they washed his blood off it at the well before devouring it.

That demands a poem, but I never gotten ready to write it.