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Molnar: Vegetable Fatigue

09/27/12 5:55PM By Martha Molnar
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(Host) Even the best things in life can lose their allure after a time, as Martha Molnar, a public relations professional and freelance writer, discovered this summer.

(Molnar) This has been my vegetable summer, the summer I achieved a long cherished fantasy: to grow enough food to be virtually self sufficient, at least for a couple of months.

Persistent work and endless sunshine yielded a crop more suited to a clan of carrot crunchers than to two people on a mostly vegetarian diet with occasional meat thrown in. Spring's leafy greens and asparagus were followed by daily basketfuls of tomatoes, squash, peppers, beans and eggplants, and more greens. The kitchen gleamed with reds and greens and purples, and the aromas of herbs permeated the house. We consumed this cornucopia raw and cooked, as liquids and solids, whole and chopped, steamed, grilled and fried, marinated and pickled. I prepared bursting goodie bags for neighbors and friends. Recipes that called for pounds of summer vegetables became cherished heirlooms overnight. And a new freezer was purchased to house the overflow.

There was beauty in harvesting tomatoes shiny with morning dew and eating them on the spot. There was joy in cooking and hoarding for the lean times. There was pleasure in eating delicious, healthy food day after day, and in feeling oh so virtuous. I was, after all, reducing our footprint on the earth.

At least until mid August. Then, even as the satisfaction of getting that zucchini before it grew into a murder weapon, or in snapping off streamers of stringbeans remained, the cooking and eating became - well - old. Gazpacho was great, but it lacked something. Likewise peppers stuffed with couscous and herbs. Even the stir-fry infused with ginger and basil felt bland.

And it so happened, that just about that time we left for an important wedding. At the rehearsal dinner, I tentatively tasted a little of my husband's chicken. It was only a simple roasted variety, but it was the best bird that ever touched my tongue. I asked for a serving, which I consumed at a less than elegant pace after rudely pushing my vegetarian entre to the side.

The next morning, I considered for a long time the bacon listed on the menu, then passed. But at the wedding, I changed my mind, I said to the waiter. I didn't want the eggplant napoleon I had chosen, in writing, weeks before. Nor the faro with grilled, locally-sourced vegetables. I left even the very green salad untouched. I wanted the beef, the one smoked on site, whose aroma had enticed me away from the waiters offering platters of appetizers, away from the guests left in mid-sentence. I wanted the beef that had driven the very memory of healthy, organic vegetables out of my mind, far, far away - all the way to next summer.
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