I am a journalist, a home cook, a wife and mother of two, and a vegetarian by birth — meaning that my parents are vegetarians. They gave up meat in the heat of the sixties, convinced by my dad’s brother, who had dropped out of college and started living in a tee-pee. While my uncle is now a steak-loving corporate lawyer, my parents never went back — sticking to a vegetarian diet that included eggs and milk-products, as well as fish.
In college I dabbled in meat — turkey sandwiches, curried chicken salad, and bacon … mmmm — though I wouldn’t know a chump chop from a loin. As an adult and now as the main cook for my family, I’ve settled happily back to a vegetarian diet along the lines of my parents.
My husband, meanwhile, loves duck, lamb and all things pork. He’s a sucker for ribs and chicken wings so spicy they make your head sweat. But one night, after a delicious dinner of beet risotto, my barbecue-loving man gave me a challenge: “Master ten A+ vegetarian dishes and I’ll give up meat.”
The Roasted Beet is both my virtual kitchen, a place for me to tinker with recipes, and an ongoing chronicle of my efforts to meet his challenge.
But enough about me. Let’s introduce you, my readers. Some of you eat meat — you grew up eating that way and now, for one reason or another, you’d like to eat less of it, but you dread a lifetime of joy-less meat-free meals. Some of you are vegetarians married to (or otherwise cooking for) meat-eaters who would like to shift your menus towards vegetables and grains but know that if you don’t deliver tasty and satisfying meals your eaters will rebel. And all of you care about eating good food.
Which brings us to the all-important question: How can a meat-lover trust my opinion that any given dish is tasty? “Why,” you might think, “her taste buds haven’t been drenched by a juicy burger in so long they’ve forgotten what ‘tasty’ really is!” The answer is, you don’t have to. If my husband, a Southern-born black man who loves him some pork ribs, can learn to enjoy and even look forward to a vegetarian meal, anyone can. Now a professor of philosophy, he will be grading every dish, making comments, and analyzing the flavors. He’s fair but honest and, in short, he has taste buds you can trust.