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More of an Omnivore, Really
by C. Charman
I gave up eating meat about a year and a half ago. It's not any ethical or moral thing, I just seemed to be getting sick every time I had it, so I decided to stop. In the interest of completeness, I stopped eating all land-based meat, beef, pork, and fowl. I didn't become a vegan, because I have an unhealthy love of dairy, and I kept eating fish, so that I wouldn't
In the year and a half from that New Year's Eve, when I ate a pizza so encrusted with animal flesh that I was sick for two days, I have knowingly eaten meat exactly twice, once when the chillies I ordered on my omelet were actually chili con carne, rather than green chilies, and once when a tofu dim sum turned out to be harboring a hidden pork center. All that changed last week.
My son and I had dinner at the Elephant Bar. The service was second rate, which was no surprise. Our waiter meandered over after we'd been sitting for a while, and of course took our drink order in the middle of a conversation. An extended wait later, he returned with our drinks and took our dinner order. I ordered my usual, a citrus salad and crispy orange shrimp.
My son asked repeatedly how long I thought it would be before the food came. I had no answer, other that then an unhelpful "soon." We played with the kid's menu, pushing out the perforations to transform the menu into paper glasses with an elephant's trunk and ears. B. drew on the place mat and I fussed with my Treo, deleting some of the constant stream of bogus emails I get from work.
When the food finally arrived, the salads came with the entrees. I was annoyed, but not enough to make a fuss about it. I started in on the salad, although my usual habit would be to eat the hot food first and leave the cold for after.
The orange shrimp is served breaded and glazed in an orange sauce, with small, hot Chinese peppers and rice. Once I'd finished my salad, I took my first bite.
It wasn't shrimp.
It was the best fucking chicken I have ever tasted. In my entire life, I have never had chicken this good. It was tender and succulent, soft enough to cut with a fork, but firm enough to have an excellent feel in the mouth. Breading and a bath in boiling oil encased the morsels of flesh along with their juices. The spicy, orange glaze provided just the right touch of sweet, hot, and hint of sour.
I said nothing to my son.
I ate every last speck, every tiny sliver of chicken on my plate. There was nothing left.
A year and a half of neither meat nor fowl, gone in one delicious meal. You may wonder why I didn't send it back. I wonder myself. Maybe a more committed person would have. But I ate it, and I loved it. And I'd do it again in a minute.
C. Charman doesn't know that we've been sending him all those bogus emails