Banished to the Peanut Gallery

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, when you have to pack lunches for Pescatarians, a trip to the deli counter no longer solves the ‘what do I give them for lunch?” dilemma. You would think that a simple solution would be to pack them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. Well, it used to be so for the post-boomers and before then which I fondly recall as the ‘good ol’ days’. I remember being happy to open my lunchbox and see a yummy peanut butter and jelly sandwich within and also being able to sit among my friends. Alas, those days are gone. Strangely enough, it seems that children self-reporting peanut allergies doubled around the turn of the Millenium (thanks again, Wikipedia) . Our local school district, reacting to the surprising rising number of self-reported peanut allergies, instituted a new lunchroom policy, something that could only occur in this bizarre era we live in: children bringing peanut butter (jelly is guilty by association) sandwiches must sit in a peanut designated section to keep the remaining tables in the cafeteria peanut free. Obviously, having the allergic students sit in a clean, peanut free area was discriminatory. And so my children, when I offered to make them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to take to school, would look at me as if I was about to banish them to Siberia. Bringing PB&J would mean leaving their friends behind to sit with other children of unenlightened Moms, subjecting them to the scorn of the peanut-free lunch eaters who would view them as uncaring and insensitive. Oh the horror! Might as well rename the ‘Peanut Gallery’ , the ‘Peanut Gulag’. And so peanut butter and jelly
sandwiches are no longer a school lunch option for the Pescatarians. Ironically, a tuna fish sandwich is an acceptable alternative, allowing them to eat lunch among the general cafeteria population. The laugh is on us all because seafood allergies are more prevalent and dangerous than peanut allergies (according to Wikipedia). Shh, don’t tell the school district powers that be otherwise there will be children unhappy enough to have a stinky tuna sandwich for lunch who will then have to suffer the further humiliation of being separated from their peers. Now that’s just fishy!

Doggie Bags Are For Mommies Too

I’m sure that when my children decided they would become pescatarians, the impact that would have on their Mom did not enter their thought processes. Somehow their memories of me watching ‘Diners, Driveins & Dives’ or ‘Food Nation’ and salivating over all of the yummy burgers, ribs and steak sandwiches did not translate into the thought, ‘How is Mom going to handle this?’ Of course not! It’s a new millennium and as a Mom in this millennium, I am expected to be supportive, affirming and magically able to create pescatarian menus for every meal from the fateful decision announcement day forward. Well, I’m trying: swapping lentils for chop meat in chilis and burritos, diced tofu for chicken in stirfries, and parsnips for bacon (see prior Sans Corned Beef post). The result is an overwhelming sense of meat deprivation that over these past several months has forced me to steal from my dog. I confess here knowing that my cockapoo can’t read but let me explain. The night before I decided that a nutritious and vegetarian tofu and vegetable stir fry would be that evenings entree, my husband was at a men’s pub night where they were serving him and his colleagues (who must have been a bunch of cowboys) 24 ounce porterhouse steaks (yes, two dozen ounces of rare, perfectly grilled, juicy, salted, over an inch high, slices of delectable-ness). He returned from that meat-feast with leftovers wrapped up by the kitchen in aluminum foil. The next evening after I fed my pescatarians the delicious and nutritious vegetable and tofu stirfry (with ‘Emperor’s purple rice – thank you Costco) and as I was pushing it around on my plate, I remembered the doggie bag on the shelf in the refrigerator. I leaped up, throwing the shiny aluminum lump on the counter, and unwrapped it like a child opening their most anticipated present for Christmas. Inside the crumpled aluminum were a few t-bones and on top of them rectangular slices of steak. I claimed the slices for myself and told the cockapoo, ‘Sorry but the stuff on the bones is yours – Mama gets the sliced pieces because I need them more than you!’ I took them to the sink, rinsed them off, placed them in a frying pan for a few minutes just long enough to kill germs but not enough to turn them medium rare then placed them on my plate all while my cockapoo watched and waited dumbfounded. Although I knew I had sunk to a new low, I was as happy and content as Guy Fieri (or Adam Richman for that matter) biting into a masterfully created meat masterpiece. We might have to call those restaurant souvenirs ‘Mommy Bags’ from now on.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day Sans Corned Beef

As I have been lamenting, my children are pescatarians and I am outnumbered so I was faced with a new challenge this St. Patrick’s Day: what to serve the leprechauns for dinner? (If I had given birth to actual leprechauns I bet I would have made my corned beef and cabbage with parsnips in Jameson-spiked broth – quite popular at our St. Pat’s parties of past years). My solution? I looked through my Irish cookbooks and got inspired by Simon Pearce. What if I substituted parsnips for bacon (oh the sacrilege) in the Connemara Broth recipe and tweaked it for the vegetarian palate? Then I bought a Canadian wild caught salmon (since that’s the closest to an Irish salmon I rationalized) and broiled it with a whiskey citrus rub. Irish soda bread and broccoli on the side since its green and looks like leprechaun trees. Result? Happy pescatarian offspring and Mom’s Irish eyes were smiling on the outside, crying ‘deprived!’ on the inside.


My Children are Pescatarians and I’m Outnumbered

When we last left this blindsided Mom, I related that not only my teenage daughter but my tween son had plotted against me, vowing pescatarianism, anticipating that I would capitulate and become one too.  At that time, my eldest daughter, my beloved firstborn, was still at home, getting ready to become a college freshman, but thankfully still eating meat along with her Mom and our cockapoo.  By the way, I don’t include my husband in the meat-eating equation.  He does but watches his cholesterol and so hardly partakes of my red-meat dishes, even though I drain the fat, trim the fat, feed all gristle to the dog, etc.  Dad, however, has no willpower, and whenever there was something on the table that he could eat, like roast chicken, he would proceed to eat until it was a perfect chicken skeleton ready for display in the natural history museum then blame me for leaving the chicken out in the first place.  To correct this behavior, my husband now eats his main meal in his super-healthy office cafeteria and does what my children call “filter-feed’ when he comes home which means drinking a health shake or having a bowl of cereal for dinner.  With Dad out of the equation, the score was 2 – 2, meat-eaters vs. pescatarians, and if you count the dog we stood at 3 – 2 until my firstborn went off to college, leaving me to create menus for the reamaining pescatarians and realizing I was outnumbered because our dog gets his meat out of a can to be honest.  Why, I lamented was my meat-eater leaving?  My tween daughter looks older than her sister.  Maybe I could send her pescatarianess off to college in her stead and blissfully continue barbequing ribs, burgers, steaks and chicken.  And maybe, just maybe, my tween baby boy would remember how much he loved my cooking, capitulate, and return to omnivorism.  Alas, it was not to be.  I am the sole meat-eater of my household, along with my cockapoo:{

Help! My Children are Pescatarians!

I am definitely in a wave of novel experiences that Moms of past eras did not have to deal with. Can you imagine a cavewomen telling her offspring, “Okay, so you are off of meat from now on? Our hunter Dad will have to find more fish and as a gatherer I will find more beans?” Last winter, my teenage daughter told me that she would no longer be eating meat with the rest of the family. Fish, she said, would be okay, even shellfish, which I found amusing since her Dad is Jewish. I was confused since it was during Lent and I thought this was a phase brought on by my Catholic faith which she would emerge from, eating meat dinners like the rest of us. But noooooo, Lent came and went and she persisted in wanting meatless but not necessarily fish-less dinners. I admit I would forget and right before serving a roasted chicken dinner would slip some frozen falafel balls in the toaster oven, hoping they would be done in half the time so that she wouldn’t be waiting fifteen minutes into the meal for her main course. I got the hang of it in a few months, Boca burgers at the ready, chunks of mozzarella available during sausage-laden Italian meals, when my baby, my 11 year old number one and only son decided that he was going to become a pescatarian also. In the words of the Pet Shop Boys, I cried, What have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this!