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Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.

Vegetarian II

August 31, 2009

I write this on the eve of one of the most daunting and challenging days of my life.

The sword of Damocles is dangling above my head. I am encompassed by a sense of foreboding and live in fear that much wailing and gnashing of teeth is looming just around the corner.

Our country might be in the worst financial straits its seen since the Great Depression, but that is the last thing on my mind, today. Tomorrow the boom is lowered. Life, as I have known it for 47 years will cease to exist. Pain and suffering are real and near and I’m counting the hours.

I haven’t been asked to appear in court as the defendant in a complex legal matter. I’m not about to run a marathon, or compete in an iron man competition. I’m not getting prepped for major surgery, and as far as I know, the Attorney General and I are in good standing.

My pending doom is much worse than that. Tomorrow I will become a vegetarian. This hunter-gatherer is abandoning the hunt and embracing his inner gatherer. My Damoclesian sword is made out of bean sprouts.

Several weeks ago, I made the decision to become a vegetarian for a month. That day has finally come. I began to have second thoughts yesterday, but it’s been printed in over 30 newspapers across the South and I’ve spent three days answering questions and emails about my upcoming dalliance into the world of herbivores. I’m locked in.

I know nothing about being a vegetarian. Up until now, I have always believed that “Vegetarian” was just an old Native American word for “Poor hunter.” I come from a long line of carnivores. My daughter tried to be a vegetarian once. It lasted two weeks. Once she learned that vegetarians aren’t supposed to eat bacon cheeseburgers, she threw in the towel.

Actually, I have learned that I will be a Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian— no beef, pork, poultry, fish, or seafood— nothing with a face or a tail. I could have been a Lacto-Vegetarian, but I like eggs, and milk and I’m going to need all of the non-tofu protein I can get.

Being a Vegan was never in the cards. I’m a milkaholic and staking my success on copious amounts of cereal, oatmeal, cheese, scrambled eggs, scrambled eggs with cheese, and ice cream. Besides, the name “Vegan” sounds like a villain on Star Trek. Weren’t the Vegans those green-skinned people from the Crab Nebula?

One of my all-time heroes— Paul McCartney— is a vegetarian, and has been for a long time. I will draw inspiration from that

I’ve received a few dozen emails from readers who plan to “go veggie” with me during the month of September. Who knew that I, a lifelong and devout carnivore, would ever be the Pied Piper of the Bean Sprout Set? I hope I don’t let them down. I don’t think I’ve ever gone two days without eating some type of meat.

The newspapers that publish this column do so on different days of the week. No matter which day it is published, it is always written on a Monday morning. Today’s column is being written on Monday, August 31st— my last day before crossing over to the dark side. Depending on which paper you are reading, I might have been a vegetarian for one day or six days. As for this day, I am on my way to eat a bacon cheeseburger— my last one for at least 30 days. I had both sausage and bacon for breakfast, and I’ll be eating steak tonight.

Keep me in your prayers.

Spinach Madeleine

2 packages Spinach, frozen and chopped

3 /4 tsp Celery salt

4 Tbl Butter

3 /4 tsp Garlic salt

2 Tbl Flour

1 /2 tsp Salt

2 Tbl Onion, chopped

1 Tbl Jalapeno, fresh, minced

8 oz package Cream cheese, cut into pieces

1 can Evaporated milk

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Vegetable liquor

Red pepper to taste

1 /2 tsp Black pepper

Buttered breadcrumbs

Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain and reserve liquor.

Melt butter in saucepan. Add flour, stirring until smooth and blended. Add onion and cook until soft, but not brown. Combine milk and vegetable liquor until you have one cup of liquid. Add liquid slowly to onion/flour mixture, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Add seasoning and cheese. Stir until melted. Combine with cooked spinach. Place in casserole dish and top with buttered bread crumbs. Yield: six servings

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