Last weekend the Mr. and I took the train and headed to the small town where he grew up. We went on Sunday afternoon to a gathering at his parents’ house that was in celebration of both of their birthdays. It was a really lovely afternoon not only because we got the visit much of the family, but also because there was a lot of really, really ridiculously good food. Given how things turn out for some people, I think I pretty much hit the in-law jackpot. Not only do I really like all of my family-in-law (is that a real term?), they also cook amazing food. Amazingly good vegetarian food, that is, AND they’re German. Yep – I totally just used “vegetarian” and “German” in the same sentence.
I’m not actually a full-blown vegetarian, but during my adolescence I began to start veering away from meat and towards veg. More and more, a lot of the meaty dishes my mom had prepared my entire childhood began losing their appeal. My guess is that it was a combination of my palate becoming more fully developed (i.e. I had acquired a taste for and actual enjoyment of more and more veg) and the realization of where meat came from. I sometimes toy with the idea of becoming a full-on vegetarian, but for now I’m more comfortable being a semi-vegetarian. What this means for me personally is that a lot of my meals are vegetarian and I usually don’t prepare any meat at home. If I buy meat, I try to only buy organic and humanely raised animal products. My conscience still isn’t 100% clear, but at least I figure I’m doing some good by eating less meat than many other people do, and therefore hopefully making less of an environmental impact as a result. And buying “happier” meat is undoubtedly a step in a better direction.
Anyway, when I first began to get to know the Mr., the thought crossed my mind at some point that I would probably meet his parents. His German parents. His German parents who most likely consume huge quantities of meat, meat and more meat and would you like some meat to go with that meat? Yeah, okay, I’m being a little overdramatic, but let me explain.
See, I was slightly scarred by a trip I took to Germany way back when I was 18 years old. It was a wonderful trip, and during a short segment of it I actually got to stay with a German family in the town of Herzogenaurach. They were very nice, and I had a lovely time, but I had to consume so much food during my stay with them (90% of which was meat), that I left feeling disgustingly bloated, somewhat ill and in need of something green and fresh. Stat. The worst moment was in Nürnberg where my host mother and I had gone for an afternoon of sightseeing. This was towards the end of my stay with the family, and I was so full at this point that I think I literally had begun to waddle. I turned my back for one second – ONE SECOND – and she had bought me a huge bratwurst. My stomach turned looking at that thing and I finally got a couple bites down, but it was sheer determination that kept them down. It was not pretty. So when I met the Mr. and realized we’d go to meet his family at some point, I began having flashbacks and considered converting 100% to vegetarianism at that very moment.
However, my fears were quickly laid to rest when I discovered that not only is the Mr.’s younger sister a vegetarian, but BOTH of his parents are, too. Although his family ate meat growing up, some years back his parents just decided they’d had enough and became vegetarians. His older sister and her family are a bit like us; they also eat vegetarian food quite often but do eat meat (we just celebrated Christmas with them, and they had prepared an awesome vegetarian meal. AWESOME, I tell you.) And the birthday get-together I mentioned above? His mother had made mouth-watering bulgur, lentil and pasta salads, as well as polenta and a few other dishes. And THREE types of cake, of course. (Well, they have to tick the “stereotypically German” box in some way, right?) I’m going to stop writing now before you all start to hate me….