Liver! … And Why I became a Vegetarian
The most horrible food I have ever tasted, truly the most foul, including the time I tried Scottish Haggis, is my own mother’s home cooked liver. Actually, at the time I kind of liked the haggis. But I was like maybe nine years old and when hungry I was known to eat cold burnt toast. I once ate an entire package of saltine crackers with nothing but butter spread thickly on each cracker.
But my mother’s fried liver and onions? Kill me first. My brother and sister and I held a meal less vigil every night we even smelled her liver and onions. In fact many of those nights I had to leave the house. It tasted like a slab of burnt blood. Which is to say I have never actually tasted a slab of burnt blood, but that is what my imagination conjures up. Burnt blood. Dry, ugly brown, chalk-like burnt blood.
I did like fried onions, but if they had shared the pan with her liver, well, forget it.
My father, who grew up on a farm just like my mother, loved her liver and onions. He was a big man though and had a big man appetite and wasn’t much of an epicure. Meat and potatoes. Steak, nearly raw. Lots of bacon. He would eat a brick if it had bacon on it. And he did not have any aspirations to become an epicure. Down home on the farm and he liked his food that way.
Now my father did become an important man in the U.S. military, but his food preferences remained plain. My mother became more ambitious in her desire to experience a wider range of delicacies and epicurean delights as my father’s position rose. And as her children we were treated to, or experimented upon – depending on your view point – lots of different world cultural food like adventures.
I did try fried grasshoppers – not bad. Garden snails – quite good. English eel – never again. Actually we lived in England for three years, so I tried a lot of English treats. Most of it was pretty bland or simply, “Why would you cook anything like this?” The only vegetables the English ate (at that time) were boiled into a sludge. Generally a kind of puke beige sludge. With globs of some kind of meat lard blobbishness floating in it.
English cabbage – what is this? Bread pudding – loved that with their rum sauce and raisins. Meat pies – okay, but what are those green pills in it? Oh, those are peas. Why are those peas so damned hard? Bangers ‘n mash – salty and stay close to a restroom. Fish ‘n chips (wrapped in a newspaper) with salt ‘n vinegar – delicious. Fish ‘n chips – best thing about England.
Now Scottish food is quite different, starting with the haggis. The best thing about Scotland, other than being quite beautiful when it ain’t raining – and it’s raining most of the time – is the scones. Scottish scones are almost worth the trip alone.
But this blog is about how and why I became a vegetarian, almost forty years ago.
Pretty simple really. I married a vegetarian and she didn’t cook meat. Wouldn’t even cook in a pan that had had meat cooked in it. So all of the cookware I owned at the time went into the garbage. Had to buy all new stuff. But she was a really, still is, good cook and after a few years I stopped thinking about meat. So much so that now when I even smell meat, my mind says, “What the hell is that?” My mouth does not water. Just conditioning, really. If you’ve never smelled coconut milk, you wouldn’t think of it as a food.
My wife doesn't, nor has ever indicated, that she cared one way or another if I did chose to eat meat. Just not at home and she won't cook it.
I have experienced very good health all these years without meat. I’ve done a lot of stuff that requires pretty demanding stamina and never had a problem keeping up with or even staying ahead of nearly everyone else. So the argument that, as humans, we need to eat meat, I have found is mostly bogus – at least in my life it has proven to be bogus. You do what you want, I don’t care.
It was mostly that liver though. After nearly forty years, just the smell of cooking meat makes me think of my mother’s fried liver ‘n onions and I get queasy. Life is kind of funny that way. Sometimes, one very seemingly insignicant experience can stick with us like forever and we can’t seem to overcome it.
I uncovered, by mistake, a ground wasp hive and got stung six times in a nano-second. Hurt like bullets – not afraid of wasps. Still hate liver. Can’t stand burnt oatmeal cookies. Still love oatmeal cookies that aren’t burnt. Still hate liver. Motorcycle fell over once and the muffler burnt my leg right down to the muscle layer – still ride my bike. Still hate liver. Don’t eat meat, ‘cause it reminds me of liver.