07 August, 2011

Purification Ritual?

I would like to ask the rule-makers of vegetarianism:  Exactly how far can one stray and still ever deem to call themselves a vegetarian?  I may require some vow renewal or carrot juice shower or something to purify myself after what happened this past Thursday.

Scott and I went out to dinner with friends on Thursday night at 7:30 pm.  This was perhaps a foolish choice of dining time on our parts because it is Ramadan. During this particular time everybody is finishing up their big Ramadan supper meal and they seem to be in no mood to serve us.  We went to La Pacha - a rather large boat permanently docked on the Nile with a wide variety of restaurants on board.  We ate at a nice enough restaurant at the entrance to the boat because there you can order from any menu on board.

There were about 8 waiters and we were nearly the only diners in the whole place.  They all generally stayed in a huddle chatting rather than ya know, waiting on us or something.  In general most places that we have been to tend to be incredibly overstaffed compared to the number of customers.  Try buying a loaf of bread from a bakery with 5 dudes behind the counter waiting for you to choose what you want.  Intimidating.

Anyway, half of our table of 8 ordered from one menu, the rest from another menu.  Scott and I ordered veggie pakoras to start and several other people ordered appetizers too.  When some of the food finally began to arrive our waiter kept putting each dish right in the middle of the table rather than in front of the person who ordered.  I think they were trying to encourage communal eating when really, none of us were interested in sharing what we had specifically chosen with the 7 other people at the table.  So when 4 small golden medallion shaped fritters appeared in the centre of the table I pounced on them (before I could be mistaken for a good sharer) and asked of the waiter: "Pakoras?  Veggie Pakoras?"  He nodded vaguely at me.

We began to notice that half of the table had received their food and half hadn't.  Some main course items were coming out before other people's appetizers.  Weird.  We later discovered that everyone that had ordered from the Indian menu was still waiting for their food while everyone who had ordered from the main menu had received their items already.  Okay, but our pakoras were from the Indian menu.  So by that logic, they should have been one of still to be delivered items.  Unless these were not our pakoras...

My first few bites I trustingly take are good.  "This is delicious".  I tell Scott and the others.  Soft in the centre and a nice mellow flavour. I determine since it is all white inside there must be only cauliflower and potatoes (I can't think of any other white veggies).  By my third bite I'm starting to think "this is not a veggie taste that I know"...  We jokingly hypothesize that perhaps it is the deep fried veal brains that my friend's husband had ordered as an entree.  Ha, ha we laugh.  As if we would be eating deep fried veal brains.  I stop enjoying my tasty medallion as we ponder the possibilities.

Aneda asks the waiter in Arabic what the menu item is in fact on my plate.  He replies in Arabic something that starts with an "m".  Aneda's expression is unreadable to me.  AM I EATING VEAL BRAINS OR WHAT??  Reluctantly she confirms my worst fear:  I ate veal brain and I liked it.

I fight away tears and a total meltdown (I won't even let Scott eat veal, let alone veal brains; forget about the idea of me being the one eating it).  With 7 witnesses at the table watching my reaction, I decide to continue to project a level of sanity and do in the end manage to even see the humorous side of it all.

About an hour later, our actual veggie pakoras arrive.  Too little too late, I choose to take a different tactic:  "What is THIS?" I bark at the waiter as he lays it down.  "Veggie pakoras" he replies.  Well why didn't I think of that earlier?!

1 comment:

  1. Oh no! How disheartening. There's nothing worse than cheating on a diet (I say that because I don't make lifestyle changes... just temporary changes to my diet which, *clearly*, is working out *so* well for me) when it's not your choice to even do so. Especially when it's a moral choice you've made. That feels so wrong... violating... and deflating. Good for you for keeping it together! I, surely, would have not. At least it was unintentional. That's something...