Of all the seasons, summer is for vegetarians. Just look around the backyard garden. The scene is enough to make me contemplating turning from omni to herbi.
The fear is, by not eating meat, I will miss the umami moments which are highlights of still being a livning thing. Once I took a plate of kelp to a potluck. The kelp had been cut to pieces, tied into bie-size knots and slow-cooked in a sovory broth. Most of the party-goers that day were aging hippies, many of them vegetarians. One such lady appoached me and said, 'You cooked this? You got to teach me how to cook it. It is so delicious!" I looked at her huge smile and suddenly felt uneasy. The broth (the lu joice) was used to cook beef and tendons before. Thus the flavor was not entirely of kelp but partially of animal glutamate and ribonecleotides. I shared the recipe of the basic lu and asked her to keep reusing and replenishing it to develop a full body of flavor. I did not have the heart to tell her to occasional use it to cook meat to add umami. Another time, I conspired with my family to "rescue" my future daughter-in-law from being stuck a vegetarian. First I sent her to Spain where, at that time, folks had no concept what a vegetarian diet was. By the end of her trip she finally yielded and started eating fish to avoid eating red meat. Then we went to Joe's Shanghai in lower Manhattan for soup dumplings. After hearing us moan in ecstacy, she blurted out, "OK, I will try one, just one..." Well, that essentailly put an end to her vegetarian career. Since I have not yet witnessed meat eaters lured into being vegetarians by taste or flavor, won't you say my fear is well founded?
What is shaking my conviction now is the passing of time. For some reason, my body seems to be less able to handle animal protein in my old age. Before I give up on meat, I want to explore what the best the vegetarian world has to offer. I begged my favorite chef to do a dinner without meat. He is now scheduling a pop-up for this Saturday (http://www.studiokitchen.com/events).in Philadelphia.
Won't it be rionic if my daughter-in-law finds out that I might turn vegetarian? But if I do, I am starting by putting myself in the hands of one of the top chefs around. His no doubt is a destination, for folks from NYC to D.C.