Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Accidental Pescetarian


Today, I celebrate 2 years and 14 days as a pescetarian. The pescetarian diet excludes land animals and birds, but includes fish and shellfish in addition to fruits, vegetables, plants, legumes, nuts, grains, and eggs and dairy. I made this transition two years ago as an experiment. After witnessing the discipline of several college friends, I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone and experience life from a different angle. I also wanted to cut back in anticipation of my Thanksgiving binge. Surprisingly, this diet change brought about unanticipated changes in my health. Chronic body pains came to a halt. I felt lighter and more energized. I needed less sleep--I think this effect has worn off. I felt more alert. This happened all in a month's time. I was clearly on to sometime.

I was actually completely vegetarian during the first month. My goal was to make it to Thanksgiving. Well, I made it and found myself conflicted. I enjoyed the new health benefits of the diet, but at the same time, the Southerner in me was destined to pull me to the dark side to indulge in fried chicken, catfish, gumbo, ribs, barbeque pulled pork, bacon, crawfish, ham, and jambalaya. After all, we raised hogs back in the 'Sip. We made our own sausage, bacon, fatback meat, pork cracklins--darn good, I tell you--and souse meat. Hog maws--stomach of the pig--were actually one of my favorite delicacies for most of my life. Thus, I couldn't quite fathom sustaining myself on a completely vegetarian diet. Fish and shellfish became the perfect compromise as I'm completely obsessed with bottom feeders (i.e. catfish and crawfish).

The absolute greatest benefit of being pescetarian is that it forces me to be an adventurous eater and cook. This Thanksgiving, most Americans will be eating turkey and chicken and dressing--Northerners say stuffing. Stuffing is a blasphemous word at my house, though. The mere utterance of this word will cause my mother to snap her neck and give me the look of death.

Well, I'm American!
I grew up on turkey and chicken and dressing, too!
I want comfort this Thanksgiving!
I want to eat ancestral food!

Guess what? I will! In the past, I've made an Herbed Oyster Dressing that my teenage cousin begs me to make everytime I come home--he's a darn picky eater, too. And last year, my mom put me on to yellow squash dressing. This year, the clouds will part and light will shine from heaven when I integrate the recipes. For days, I've been dreaming of fresh herbs, stale French bread, cornbread, butternut squash, olives, walnuts, red onions, oysters, garlic, celery, vegetable stock, and mushrooms combined in a decadent dressing and garnished with the finest of cranberry sauces. Each bite gloriously washed down with a sip of mom's homemade muscadine wine--Rewind! Scratch the wine... a little wishful thinking, you know!

Where I'll spend Thanksgiving? I'm not exactly sure, yet. I have a couple options. I'll have food and dressing for sure. For that I am thankful!

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