Holden Caulfield (lordtwinkie) wrote in petards,
Holden Caulfield

I love alton brown


December 2008

Dear Alton,

My son is bringing his vegetarian girlfriend to Christmas dinner this year. I’m obviously going to have to think beyond my usual holiday ham, but I have no idea where to start. Any ideas?
Judith McHenry

Dear Judith-

If your family was all vegetarian and your son was bringing his omnivorous girlfriend to dinner would you feel the necessity to prepare a ham or a turkey or some other hunk of beast? I doubt it. The way I see it your responsibility to “obviously” provide an alternative, meat-free entrée might be valid if the young lady suffered from some sort of meat allergy. But she doesn’t. Her dietary condition results from socio-political dietary free will. She is a guest and as such should accept the hospitality of your table with grace. If she doesn’t want the ham she can eat the side dishes and an extra piece of pie. Do not coddle her or your son for that matter. It’s your family and your kitchen…run it lady.

Here’s what I would do: I’d prepare a hearty wild rice pilaf containing wild rice, legumes (lentils perhaps) and meaty mushrooms such as portobellos. Everyone could enjoy such a dish and you wouldn’t be doing something just for one person. And don’t forget a nice mac and cheese which goes fabulously with ham. I’d suggest a deep dish baked version constructed with a touch of nutmeg and good English cheddar. I’d probably make sure there was some bacon grease hidden in there too but that’s me.

Seriously, I can respect personal decisions like vegetarianism but I can’t respect the bad manners that often unfold when people who make such personal choices take it out on their hosts. That’s food terrorism and none of us should negotiate with

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