We were in a local kebob restaurant the other day, pondering the wide array of choices.
“Do you guys know what you’d like to have?” I asked my kids.
The boys wanted beef kebobs. My daughter was more uncertain.
“I think I want to try the kibbeh,” she said sheepishly, (there’s no other word for it).
“What’s kibbeh?” I asked.
“Lamb,” she whispered guiltily.
“Oh! It’s OK! Go ahead and try it!”
When I asked her how it was, she replied, “I really feel bad about saying this, but…it’s delicious.”
Sometimes my 16 year old likes to mess with his sensitive little sister.
When she coos over a panda video, for example, he might casually interject: “I wonder what panda tastes like?”
We had a conversation like this just the other day…Almost all of my daughter’s friends are into horses these days. The 16 year old wondered out loud how they’d react if she asked them what they thought horse tasted like. And then he had a sudden thought.
He turned to me and asked, “Wait a minute, have YOU ever tasted horse?!”
“Ummm, yes, actually, I did once.” I was forced to admit, “It was served to me in France a long time ago.”
“How did it taste?”
“I don’t even remember…gamey, I guess?”
“But what does ‘gamey’ taste like? What does that word even mean?” he persisted.
His brother gave him an authoritative answer, “‘Gamey’ means it tastes like bullets.”
Clearly our family has a somewhat tortured attitude toward meat. I’ve been a vegetarian for years, but the rest of my family eats meat. It’s led to some interesting situations…
Last summer I tried to pick up my daughter from Camp Barbara‘s after work one day. As I approached the door to our neighbor’s house, I detected the unmistakable smell of bacon. My daughter saw me coming through the glass of the storm door and her eyes widened in alarm. As I opened the door, she backed away, shook her head vigorously and practically shouted, “NO! You can’t take me home now…I’m about to eat bacon!”
Wild horses couldn’t have dragged that girl out of the house. And she wasn’t the only one. The three other little girls at Camp Barbara also had vegetarian mamas. One of them was Jewish to boot. They were all allowed to eat meat, but they had to get their fix outside of their own homes. Miss Barbara was their dealer.
Not long after, my kids and I were visiting my parents’ house. My mother watched suspiciously as they devoured the bulgogi (Korean beef barbecue) she had made for them. They were eating with a little too much enthusiasm. She swiveled her head until her narrowed eyes locked onto mine.
“You never give them meat, do you?!” she asked, as if she had just discovered that her daughter led a secret double life as a serial killer, “YOU can be a vegetarian if you want, but you better feed your children some meat!”
My mother’s words were ringing in my ear when I picked up some bacon at the grocery store last week. The kids were overjoyed when I told them they could have it this weekend, but then I noticed a cloud pass across their faces.
“Awww, poor Mommy! But what will YOU have for breakfast?”
“Oh, don’t worry about me! I’ll have something else!”
On Saturday I awoke to the aroma of bacon wafting up the stairs and all throughout the house. My 14 year old son poked his head into my room. He had a grin on his face, and said they had a surprise for me.
I came down to this:
Those sweet kids felt so sorry for me that I didn’t get to eat bacon that they made me this instead.
I don’t deserve them, but I’m sure glad they’re mine.