Mangia il minestre, o ima gonna toss you alla finestre!

My command of the English language is wobbly at best.  My command of the Italian is–well, it is what it is.  If I were shooting for humor, we’d have “macaronics,” which is an intended mash-up of hilarious English + Italian.  But I’m not shooting for humor.  I’m serious, believe it or not.

I don’t know why, but I’ve been on quite the breakfast bender lately.  This morning, I had eggs, bacon, sausage (in both link and patty form), buttered toast & jelly, Cheddar grits, hash browns, biscuits & gravy, apple fritters, fresh fruit (mostly melon), spinach quiche, apple sauce, French toast, chocolate milk, apple juice, vanilla cake, banana pudding, and apple cobbler.  That’s pretty typical of my AM meal for the last month or so.

All that’s enough to last me through most of the day, but I start getting hungry again late in the afternoon.  By then, grits and sausage aren’t really calling out to me, and I’m in the mood for something lighter and simpler.  Noodles.  Thai noodles.  Spicy Thai noodles with peanut sauce.  Yeah.

My friend Sammy, who’s from Thailand, swears up and down that he’s going to go back to Bangkok and start up an enterprise called “Sammy’s Bangin’ Noodle Cart.”  If I had money to invest in that, I would.  I’d go with him and be the token white guy.

Many years ago, when I lived in Austin, I had a very good friend named Myo.  He was a Burmese Buddhist, and a vegetarian.  I don’t think that Burmese Buddhism calls upon you to be a vegetarian, but Myo grew up in the jungle and didn’t have much choice.  I once saw him eat a wasp’s nest.  You do what you gotta do.  Out of curiosity, I went vegetarian (no wasp’s nests, though) and stayed that way for about six months.  I liked that it opened my eyes to other food choices, and I liked its influence on my gastro-intestinal tract, but I didn’t like the dent it put on my wallet.  I gradually reincorporated eggs, cheese, milk, cream, fish, chicken, butter.  Pork.  Lunch meat.  Pizza.  Lard.

A few years later, I was under the tutelage of Chef Kevin Dunn, an adamant vegan, and I took his eight-week vegan challenge.  It was pretty easy, mostly because I worked for Chef Kevin and had an unlimited larder.  His fried polenta, mock duck spring rolls, and seitan stroganoff made me think that I could live that way forever.

Forever?  No.  Chef Kevin’s eight-week challenge crapped out after–guess what–eight weeks, and I was no longer under his tutelage or on his payroll.  If I wanted polenta, mock duck, or seitan, I’d have to pay for it myself.

Turns out that mock duck and seitan and things like that are hard to find, and if you can find ’em, they ain’t cheap.

Here’s where I start catching a whiff of hypocrisy in the atmosphere:  If you can afford to eat mock duck and seitan every day, you must be a capitalist bastard, and if you’re a capitalist bastard, you leave a huge footprint.

Sincere vegans eat ramps and fiddleheads and dandelion greens out of their own yards.  If your idea of being a vegan is buying cans of imported mock duck and seitan, I can’t claim to have much admiration for you.

Don’t do things half-way.  If you want to be a vegan, that’s great–but don’t buy cans of fermented beans that have sat on Asian loading docks for God-knows-how-long and then sent over here on diesel-powered freighters.  Grow your own corn, beans, and onions.

You want to eat meat?  Great!  I’m quite the carnivore myself.  All I ask is that you consider the source.  Where’d that chicken/pig/cow come from?  What’d it eat?  If it grew up eating Asian loading dock diesel beans, you’d be better off co-opting the neighbor’s spaniel.

Remember junior high social studies?  Remember hearing about “hunters & gatherers”?  Well, guess what–there are still cultures that hunt and gather.  Anthropologists have asked them, “Wouldn’t you rather have a paycheck, a house, a car?”  The hunter/gatherers have replied “Ha!  Are you nuts?  I wake up when I want, wander around until I find enough nuts and berries to get through the day, and then I’m done.  You’re the crazy one, my friend.”

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