I am currently in the midst of a week-long vacation from work, staying home to entertain my close friend from Australia, Muck (because he’s Australian, he doesn’t always pronounce his R’s, so his given name Mark became Muck…although since my husband Mark is Smark, Muck is more often Smuck). Smucky and I couldn’t be more different in terms of palate: he’s a vegetable- and spice-hating carnivore with little sense of culinary adventure and I’m (obviously) a vegan with a taste for spicy food and trying new things. So I try to find some compromises when he’s here. He’s generally pretty good about at least trying most of the things I make and sometimes he even likes them! I do let him keep a quart of milk and sliced deli turkey in the refrigerator (the latter meaning the cats really like it when he’s in town) so he doesn’t starve, but I enjoy introducing him to new things.
Sometimes I am really surprised by the things that are new to Smucky. For example: bagels. I offered him a homemade bagel last summer and he said he’d never had nor even seen one before. What?!? How can you spend nearly three decades on this planet and never encounter a bagel?!?! The good news is he really took to bagels once he tried one. Now I feel obligated to keep a supply of them on hand when he’s here. They are fun to make, so it’s okay. After he took his jet-lagged self to bed early Monday night, I got to work and surprised him Tuesday morning with fresh everything bagels:
Somehow we’ve managed to go through 8 1/2 bagels already, so it looks like another batch is in my immediate future.
Smucky adulterates his with non-vegan turkey and mozzarella (and, surprisingly, sliced “beetroot”…apparently it’s a normal sandwich topping in Australia): he’s never had cream cheese because he “doesn’t like cream”. I, however, smear mine with Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, and in this case, jalapeno jelly from my mother-in-law in Charleston. Is it the healthiest way to start my day? Maybe not, but I’m on vacation, damn it!
Another thing Smucky’s never heard of is blueberries, which is possibly even more bizarre than bagels. He and I were in Wegmans tonight picking out sodas to buy for a party we’re having this weekend, when he suggested we try a blueberry soda. I said I was skeptical about the universal appeal of blueberry soda and asked him if he’d ever had it and it came out that he didn’t even know what a blueberry is: he thought it was just a flavor of “lolly”. Once I got over my shock, I abandoned him in the soda aisle, ran back to the produce section, grabbed some blueberries and returned stating he was going to find out what a blueberry was and not in soda form. Oddly, I did buy the blackberry soda he suggested without asking him if he knows what a blackberry is…maybe he just thought it best to keep mum about it.
One of the few meals I can think of that will satisfy both of our needs is Italian-style pasta. Usually we end up having spaghetti at some point when he’s here, but today I decided to go all-out and spring vegan lasagne on him. His eyes got big with excitement when I announced we’d be having lasagne for dinner, although he immediately asked, with concern in his voice, “but what about the meat and cheese? You can’t have lasagne without meat and cheese.” I told him not to worry his pretty little head about it.
Not only did I make lasagne, I decided to make my own noodles:
I made a very Veganomicon lasagne, with some alterations.
I substituted one spinach layer with commercial vegan “ground beef” in hopes of better appeasing the one who thinks lasagne can’t exist without meat and cheese. I’m very impressed by the fact that he ate two pieces despite the fact that I kept a spinach layer! (He did ask, suspiciously, “what’s with this green stuff?”)
(My homemade noodles didn’t retain layers very well, I’m afraid…)
One thing that I make that Smucky eats without hesitation or suspicion is ice cream, about which honestly I was at first a bit surprised. He’s such a fan of cow milk that I expected resistance to vegan ice cream…but he’s eaten about three quarters of a quart since yesterday!
Smuck’s favorite is mint chocolate chip, so I make it especially for him. Smark’s favorite is cookies and cream, so I made that tonight:
… although it looks like I’ll have to make another batch of mint chocolate chip tomorrow night. I also bought pistachios today in order to make pistachio ice cream for the party, although Smucky today informed me he hates nuts, so I guess he won’t be having any of that. Sigh.