LC Van Savage
I have a little problem I'd like to discuss here. With you. I wonder if you feel the same as I do. It is this; I am personally sickened when I'm dining at a good restaurant on a fine piece of --- well, creature---and I look out the window and see one of that creature's cousins, strolling about, enjoying freedom. For example, there is a restaurant I've been to that specializes in duck dinners. The place is famous for it. The duck there is prepared in all sorts of ways, and the restaurant has a huge following. But the problem for me is this; I simply can't eat that roasted duck, or duck l'orange or duck l'anything when I gaze out the window at a serene and beautiful lake and clearly see my entrée's cousins swimming happily about, looking back at me, completely unaware that one of their own is in pieces on my dinner plate, now swimming in gravy and surrounded by roasted potatoes and braised zucchini. Ugh.
I once went with friends to an aquarium in a big city and we decided to have lunch at the aquarium's restaurant. It was beautiful, and one wall was all aquarium, with graceful and colorful fish swimming lazily about, occasionally peering through the glass at the diners, dreaming of one day perhaps dining on them. My dinner companions seemed to have no trouble ordering the fish du jour at that aquarium restaurant and to dig into it with urgent abandon (it had been too many hours since breakfast) without even once looking up at their lunch meat's living counterparts, gliding by and glaring at us.
I couldn't do it. I just knew those sea creatures, a mere slab of plate glass between us, would know I was cannibalizing one of their own. I ordered a Caesar Salad, hold the anchovies.
And then there was the time a dear friend, a farmer, asked me to her home for a lunch she'd proudly prepared in her newly renovated kitchen. In fact her entire farmhouse had been redone, modernized and yet kept in the rustic beauty of before. I was eager to go, to see her, to see her wonderful new home and to dine in her very good company. Off I went.
The tour through the home was a visual treat; she had done much work on the place and it looked splendid, beautiful. She had every right to be proud. Finally, she took me through her kitchen and it was truly a work of art. Glorious! Enormous bay windows overlooked her large farm and I could see straight into the windows of her barn. In that barn was her favorite bull, recovering from an operation on his, well, his whatevers. My friend's dear bull was named Renoir and while he recuperated, he stared longingly out the barn's window at his beloved harem as they grazed happily on the lushly green pastures. Poor Renoir. He was so lonely, and his occasional mournful, long bellows told the world how forsaken he felt. It was so sad to see and hear him.
My friend called me to the table. She had prepared a delectable, succulent steak luncheon for both of us. The garni were beautiful, the salad wonderful, crisp and colorful, the hot biscuits home-made and flaky. She'd prepared and displayed this meal for both of us with a proud flourish. It was amazing. It smelled heavenly. I sat down. I placed my napkin in my lap. I sipped from her crystal water glass. I turned and looked out of the window. Renoir looked back. His head was up, his dark eyes rolling. I looked out across those bucolic pastures at Renoir's beloved fiancées. They had stopped ruminating and were looking back. I looked down at the steak. A wave of nausea rolled over me, and I could not dine with my dear farmer friend.
Am I a vegetarian? Well, not entirely. But legumes and tofu aren't all that bad, and at least they don't wander around outside of my diningroom windows, and they do not ever look back at me.
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