Monday, August 30, 2010
Choosing Our Battles/Priorities
Before I finish with the grilled cheese, here's the first photo I actually took of my sandwich:
That's my husband, Andres, life of the party, who popped up into the screen just as I was snapping the photo. This is his debut on "A Midlife Vegan". He is unaware I am choosing to feature him.
Back to the topic . . . I have finally moved beyond my social worries about getting what I need to eat (within reason) at restaurants. I am used to asking about how food is prepared, and if I can have it without cheese. I've found servers are much more willing to delete meat than dairy. Some of them really have to be talked into it, strangely, as if they think the food won't be worth eating without the dairy fat. But I am tactful and do not shy away from pushing the non-dairy point. In a party situation, I am unfazed because I can plan ahead, filling up on some fabulous vegan leftovers before I go, but this weekend I did something out of the ordinary -- we went to a wedding!
There are seasons in life involving life-changing events: weddings, babies, divorces, funerals. Our current station in life has afforded us very few weddings lately. We were married eighteen years ago and we are likely at least five years away from the first wedding of friends' children. So, in this dry wedding season, it was wonderful to be able to attend one. Dietarily, I wasn't sure what to expect. The wedding was at 2:30 p.m., Coptic Orthodox, with a reception immediately following at a Country Club. There were no menu-choice options on the RSVP card, so I assumed that, because of the time of day, there would probably be a buffet of hors d'ouvres. What a lovely wedding it was, and so different from what I am used to. The Coptic Orthodox Christian faith is so authentic, I imagine, rife with Middle Eastern influence, and probably so much closer to the actual experience of following Christ as he lived in the Holy Land. We were privileged to attend this wedding and to experience the cultural stretch. By the time we arrived at the reception venue, it was almost 4:00. A cocktail hour had been arranged, and I was surprised to see fully set tables in the adjacent room. We would be having a seated dinner!
A go-with-the flow kind of girl, for the most part, I know I can always find something good to eat, but I wasn't really expecting this. It did cross my mind that there would probably be unavoidable dairy, but I just relaxed and really did decide not to pick this battle. The groom being a friend and business associate of my husband's, I was not close enough to him or his bride to have reasonably inquired about dietary choices in advance. I decided to let the bride be the bride and to stand out only as a happy party guest.
As it turned out, the most difficult part for me was the salad, covered with goat cheese. I picked around it and got a bit of greenery. Then the fully assembled dinner plates were placed. I used the salad fork to lift the chicken gracefully off my plate and placed it upon the bread plate off to the side. I was left with a lovely selection of fresh baby carrots (the long kind with the greens still attached) broccoli and wild rice. The veggies were very lightly cooked and everything was delicious. Yes, of course I am sure there was butter. Yes, I was slightly sluggish the next day. But I am fine and I had a wonderful time. I actually got to speak about my vegan diet with curious fellow diners at our table. Everyone was so interested and respectful. They just wanted to learn about it and I didn't get any of those questions about protein, calcium, etc.
Looking back on this wedding, I feel completely blessed to have been a part of such a culturally rich experience, and such a poignant moment in the lives of two lovely people. As a bonus, I got to extoll the virtues of my own dietary values in a graceful, non-threatening context, to a handful of curious, intelligent, respectful people. All in all, I am happy with this non-battle choice. Now I sure am craving barley and collards!