If you ask my parents today about why I became a vegetarian, they will likely laugh and tell you that as a child, I was a "candy-atarian" and that I lived on air. And peanut butter sandwiched between two slices of white bread, sometimes accompanied by sliced bananas or hard pretzels.
They'll also tell you that I had the nose of a perfume tester, and that it was impossible to take me past the deli section of the grocery store. Oh, wait, actually I could smell the deli section from the entrance of the supermarket. And boy, did I hate the stink of meat, fish, and chicken that wafted through the air. I still do, when I have to pass through the market district of San José in the bus.
So yes, my nose started the whole vegetarian ordeal. I wouldn't eat the sloppy joe's served to me, nor grandma's chicken. I think I went through a phase where I would eat hot dogs with ketchup, but then again, I would eat almost anything with ketchup. I can still taste those nasty dogs. And I no longer like ketchup.
Milk was also an issue; I didn't like it until I was probably 6, when I started drinking the little half-and-half containers that you used to be able to find at cheap diners. Sometimes I would eat egg noodles, topped with cinnamon, and other strange combinations like that. The first time I started to try meat and chicken and actually enjoy it a little was when I became a teenager. I had never liked a steak until gram and pop took me to Frankie & Johnny's in New York City, where I devoured a filet mignon.
But in my late teenage years, I decided to go back to being a vegetarian. It became an easy excuse to not accept cow's tongue and other weird things served to me. I never quite got used to the smell although I tried to dissimulate. When I was little, I loved animals so much that anytime I would see roadkill I would cry and make my dad bury it. Our backyard became a roadkill graveyard for the poor little things. And I don't think I've changed all that much; I still can't stand the thought of putting a dead animal into my mouth. And chewing on it.
And for those who worry that a vegetarian diet isn't adequate, there's a lot of information out there that will prove you wrong. Also, I'm positive I'm not anemic, because I got an awesome tan in Aruba ;)
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen blog. Makes 2-3 servings.
2 TBSP olive oil, divided
½ TBSP + 1 TBSP butter
1 lb portobello mushrooms, stemmed, in ¼-inch slices
1 small onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup flavorful red wine
1 cup vegetable broth
1 TBSP tomato paste
¼ tsp dried thyme
1 TBSP butter
1 ½ TBSP all-purpose flour*
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Egg noodles for serving
Heat one TBSP of olive oil and the ½ TBSP of butter over high heat in a medium Dutch oven or heavy saucepan. Once hot, add the mushrooms and sear until they begin to darken in color but haven't started releasing liquid, 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
Lower the heat to medium and add the second TBSP of olive oil. Add the onion, thyme, a few pinches of salt and black pepper to taste. Cook for 5-8 minutes or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the wine to the pan and scrape residue stuck to the bottom of the pan, and then increase the heat to high to reduce by half. Once reduced, stir in the tomato paste and vegetable broth. Add the mushrooms back to the pan with any juices they have collected. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the mushrooms are very tender. Stir in the remaining 1 TBSP of butter and flour and simmer for a few minutes more.
*Note: I added the flour, although I don't think I needed to, the sauce was thick enough as was. Only add the flour if you think the sauce is too thin.