Monday, May 2, 2011

Jumping off the wagon (and burning it to the ground)

One of the very common markets in Ecuador

Looking at this picture of Ecuador's fruit and vegetable bounty you may find irony in the fact I have fallen off the vegetarian wagon. Or maybe "fallen" isn't quite allegorically correct. That scene in Diehard when Bruce Willis jumps off the exploding building? There ya have it.
So long fiber!

When Di and I came down a year ago for our scouting trip, I decided on the way down that I would also be taking a dietary hiatus. This is not a vegetarian-type country, and my Spanish capacity at the time could get me just the necessities...beers and bathrooms. I wasn't going to try to make every meal a headache by trying to stay veg. Or maybe I just used that as an excuse to take a little foodie Vegas weekend (what gets eaten in Ecuador...etc., etc.).

I christened that trip with fried pigskin. Yes, its good for more than just sport, the 'ol pigskin. But once you've gone to the Dark Side, there's just no turning back. And besides the justifications that I don't want to add another complication to being in a foreign country, and that I want to really experience the culture, I have also rationalized that many of the reasons I am a vegetarian don't count here.

Roast cuy (guinea pig). Yep, ate him.
My estimation of an animal's "cuteness" has never been a part of my dietary decision making.

Eat the worms...before they eat you

It's easy to spot and avoid industrial farm meat here, so animals are treated humanely before they're snuffed, and the meat is healthier (and just as in the States, feed lot stuff's not nearly as good). The beef here--bred for economy, not quality, and not aged either--is lousy, so red meat on our plates is still scarce (heh, I almost said "rare"). Environmentally speaking, again there are no feedlots with concentrated animal filth, and what forest clearing done for grazing is only for cows, which we're not eating. (Human effluent in the environment is a far greater concern, but we haven't figured out how not to contribute to that problem.)

A "roadside flyer" getting a blowtorch crisping. Mmmmm!
Even Piper, who when we left Minturn refused meat on ethical grounds, has wholeheartedly embraced dead birds ("Mmmmm...chicken!"), if not Wilbur on a plate. Wilbur on spit, however, is as common a site as a Starbucks at home. Walking past one live and specimen the other day she notes, "He's about ready for roastin'."
"Salchipapas" sounds much healthier than deep fried hot dog

So now all we deal with is a wee bit more illness from food-borne nasties; life's just a series of trade-offs, after all. As Diana said the first morning we cooked bacon, "I've been waiting ten years for that smell in my kitchen!"

1 comment: