If you’re a vegetarian or even a vegan, you could do worse than living in a place like Ubud. In fact, I’m not sure that it would be a stretch to claim that this town probably has the largest number of vegetarian-friendly restaurants – per square inch – in all of Asia. Not just are vegetarians very welcome in this town, but the real rage is organic and.. raw food. The raw foodies are everywhere, proselytizing, poo-pooing the non-raw-foodies (what, you’re still eating cooked food? pshaw!)
So imagine how easy it’s been for me, these past (almost) 4 years, finding a vast array of scrumptious and nutritious choices for someone like me, who for many years has been predominantly vegetarian – with the occasional slice of fish or chicken added to the mix.
Then imagine how blindsided I was when, not one, but two practitioners (actually three, but I’m not a big fan of the 3rd so he’s not in my good books right now) read me the riot act. You HAVE to eat meat, they said – one after the other. Not just any kind of meat. Preferably ORGAN meats. Gamey meats. Venison. Bison. Veal. Sweetbrain if you can stomach it.
The German-born persona non grata actually went so far as to recommend that I eat these meats – with butter and bread (!) – at EVERY single meal; occasionally with veggies and grains thrown in. He also advised that I eat foods such as smoked salmon, mackerel, pears and caviar. In Bali. I nearly lost it. Caviar?!
But yesterday, when L looked me straight in the eye, nodded gently and re-iterated (as he’d done last week) that I really should be eating some bone marrow soup; and because I respect and honor his knowledge and experience (in so many areas), I realized I was done. Medium-rare or well.. done.
For the first time in all these years, I ventured over to the supermarket’s meat counter. Through the display case windows, I scanned the meats (ground beef, chicken feet, chunks of beef..) – and I started to feel nauseous. How would I ever manage to digest these meats when my body had become accustomed to salads, grains, soups – and Balinese food?
Then I went over to the smaller fish section. Now, THAT I could handle; tuna, salmon, a few other little fishies besides.
It was time to get my body back on track. At least to push the re-set button.
No, I didn’t buy a slab o’ steak – don’t imagine I’ll ever be able to do so…
But this afternoon, I dared myself. I walked up the street, just a stone’s throw away, to a restaurant so renowned for its grilled burgers, steaks, pork chops, sausages and ribs.. that Indonesians and expats alike will sometimes drive an hour or more (from down south) to chomp away at the smorgasbord of meat. I settled down near the grill (at the roadside) and studied the menu. Uuuhhh…
Sure I had a choice. I could have resisted, could have ordered a yummy looking salad, or a delicious vegetable and noodle soup. But when the waitress came over, I heard myself speak words that I’ve not uttered for many years. One steak please. Medium-rare. And yes, potato wedges on the side. (ok, it was in bahasa indonesia, but that was the gist of it)
When she brought my order to the table, I stared at it for long enough that she came back and asked if everything was alright. Yes, I said.. thinking that I really didn’t want to eat it but couldn’t very well tell HER that. What a dilemma I had: To eat or not to eat?
I apologized to dead animals, gave thanks for food that nourishes me – plus a double-dose of gratitude to those who are guiding me to better health (though I sure as hell wish they would have found a different method!) – and did the deed:
I cringed as I sawed through the meat, cutting it into bite-size pieces. And I procrastinated by slowly nibbling away at the wedges. And then I ate it. All of it. The whole damn slab.
And, though I’d rather not admit it, my body felt very VERY happy indeed.