Mixed Marriage


October 12, 2007

It was mad cow disease that finally got my husband to limit his red-meat eating to practically never. It wasn’t any example I set or explanation I gave for being vegetarian. Some light just went on inside his head that only he knew (consciously or unconsciously) where to find the switch for. That was four years ago. He’ll still order a brisket if we’re at a deli or a steak if we’re at a restaurant that supplies an extra fork for the salad, but mostly, red meat’s a rarity in his diet.
After 11 years of marriage, he still teases me about the “lawn trimmings” that have been a staple of mine, and have been since I read Diet for a Small Planet back in the ’70s. Not having met until well into adulthood, we both had set eating habits before we set up house together. He’ll tolerate romaine, but add raddichio to a salad, and he won’t have any of it. He will eat a raw carrot, but that may be because he’s seen one of his heroes doing it—I’m referring of course to Bugs Bunny.
Chicken’s one of his mainstays, and I’ve baked or crockpotted it for him. I’ve justified this as if he were a pet cat I’d dedicated myself to feeding and caring for. Expecting my husband to prepare his own meals (as opposed to snacking) is like expecting the NRA to agree that hunters don’t need to pack assault weapons.
But just last week, he proposed that we stop buying raw chicken. It grosses you out to have to cook it, he said. (Now, I have made noises about how a whole chicken looks way too similar to a real live hen, but mostly, to the best of my recollection, I’ve been stoic about it.) No, we’re not becoming a totally veg household—he’ll pick up a turkey loaf for himself at Trader Joe’s, or a barbecued chicken at the supermarket. And we’ll still do our own thing at mealtime. But he’s respecting my choices more since I’ve respected his. Or something like that.
In any case, it was a loving gesture. A surprise gift that’s so much sweeter than a negotiated point in a marriage of dietary inconvenience.