I’ve recently become a vegetarian. It doesn’t matter why, but I should explain to my long-term dishes that I won’t be coming back. God, this is hard. It’s not you, it’s me.
I’ve long flirted with vegetarianism, but I’ve never considered a long-term relationship. I didn’t think it would work, and I certainly didn’t think my friends would like her very much. Vegetarianism would (rightly) be viewed as yet another polarising partner of mine, one of questionable taste, as those I know would very quietly roll their eyes and collectively ponder how long this would last, and Jesus, I’m really worried about Mook.
Which is fair, because I’ve done things (and people) in a vacuum before. Hello to all those people.
Every vegetarian has a genesis story, one that matters to that person because it relates to that important moment where that choice was made. Therefore, they freely share that moment with others. Because it is important to them, it should be important to others. It’s not. I also realise the unfair subtextual pressure that accompanies this choice. I’ve done it, so you should too.
Both of the above are incorrect; and the primary reasons why vegetarians (and especially vegans) are socially viewed as the culinary Schutzstaffel, an aggressive force motivated by a skewed moral that is not for us. For an easy example, study the recent work of Morrissey, who wants to lebensraum every Woolworths while high-fiving Adolf. He’s a bad example, but he’s the first vegan that comes to mind.
Now, I’ll spare you my own reason why, because it doesn’t matter. The reason why I’m penning this piece is to offer an empathetic farewell to those dishes I’ve loved. It’s not you, it’s me. My culinary exes, I thought you deserve an explanation.
Szechuan Beef, no celery, extra hot. Crazy Noodle Box.
Out of all the options on the menu,
I saw you,
You, my spicy number forty-seven.
I know you only saw me on infrequent weekends,
or through the prism of hangover. Sorry.
I introduced you to my ex, and she had you too.
I’m sorry if that was too much, I thought you’d be into it.
I know you saw others, which is ok.
I know I’ve moved, and I’m not around much anymore.
Just know that I ordered nothing else,
and my hometown Sundays were better with you.
Mixed Kebab, lettuce, cheese, tomato sauce, chilli sauce. No fixed address.
Many forgotten streets are paved by us.
You followed me wherever I travelled.
You never judged, never demanded my attention,
You were always there.
And you made me yours, In Melbourne, In Darwin, In Kyoto.
I know you only ever saw me drunk, and I’m sorry,
But I won’t take back what we did.
It was always perfect. Always what I needed.
I could rely on you to always be you,
my late night lamb sandwich.
KFC Family Feast, one zinger, one twister, four nuggets, sixteen popcorn chicken. Various.
You held this power over me,
and you know you did.
Puppeteer of many, I was but one of your strings,
a key so minor, I didn’t even register.
An evening with you was a betrayal of the self.
You, completely without shame,
giving yourself to many at once,
as you enabled that shame in us.
I’m leaving, and you don’t care,
you’re already calling my friends.
So long, farewell, good riddance,
You will not be missed.
Oven baked salmon, greek yoghurt garlic sauce. My nan’s kitchen.
Maybe I didn’t respect you enough,
you were the dish next door.
My nan’s favourite, her preference,
the lover she’d always suggest.
Your simple nature deceived me,
I only knew the complex.
I didn’t understand you,
Because I didn’t think things could be easy.
Here I stand,
Crippled by the cruellest question,
Butter Chicken, Garlic Naan. Manjit’s Restaurant.
Irreplaceable sub continental lover,
I can barely find the words.
There you sat,
atop a throne of orange and saffron.
Defeating the baying populace,
armed only with your unquestionable taste.
They all wanted to be you,
I kneel to you, my Queen,
The best I ever had,
The best I ever will have.