“Which one will I like?” I asked my boyfriend and frowned at the unfamiliar non-vegetarian side of my menu. Before that night, I had been eating vegetarian for maybe fifteen years, ever since I learned about factory farming and completely lost my taste for meat. This meal at a local upscale grill was to be my grand re-introduction to meat based eating.
“I think you’ll like a hamburger,” Dom offered. “It says organic and grass fed.”
I squinted at him. “I don’t know. I don’t remember liking hamburger, either.”
“The ribeye, then. Definitely the rib eye. It’s tender and flavorful. And from a local farm.”
“That’s steak, right? I have a memory of steak being too much chewing.” I pictured myself chewing and chewing and chewing an enormous expanse of meat that seemed like it would never grow smaller.
“I think you might be remembering steak cooked well-done? You might like it better cooked medium,” he said without letting exasperation creep into his tone.
“Hm.” And then there was trying to swallow. I scanned the menu haunted by a decades old memory of a bad steak experience. Returning to meat-eating was supposed to make my extremely low carb ketogenic diet easier to follow. I had imagined eating meat would liberate me at restaurants and open practically the whole menu to me. Except the pasta section. Or pizza. Or sandwiches.
“Or the chicken?” Dom suggested hopefully.
“I think I might hate chicken.” Or I felt like I used to hate chicken. When I wasn’t a vegetarian and ate chicken. Or maybe that was just when I was a kid? Around middle school I ate chicken salad sandwiches for lunch for four years in a row. I requested it every day, but I think that might have ruined it for me. We must have had roast chicken at least once a week for my entire childhood. “It’s bland, right?”
“Um…no… I’m sure their wood fired organic free range chicken will be excellent.”
The server returned for a third time. “Have we had time to decide?”
I sighed. Maybe I was not a person designed to eat meat. But I’d have to at least try. “I’ll have the burger. No bun and no fries. With a side of sauteed spinach.”
When the food arrived, my burger was an over-generous mound, artfully arranged on a lettuce leaf. The smell was surprisingly inoffensive. I cut into the burger and examined the pink middle. I took a tentative bite.
“It’s okay, I guess.” I peered over at his plate which looked a lot more appetizing. “Let me taste your brick chicken.”
Dom sawed off a large bite and transferred it to my plate. It was nothing like I remembered chicken. Smokey and juicy. Maybe I could get used to eating chicken, if not red meat, I decided.
“Do you want more?” Dom asked.
“How about we switch?” I said, with a slightly apologetic shrug.