It happened in the summer of 1993. It wasn’t a difficult decision.
It was always uncomfortable around the table in the company’s cafeteria. I had already developed a reputation for being picky, people had suspicions. The real challenge came when we were sitting for our Christmas dinner, as my mom cut me a piece of the juicy pork roast I couldn’t hold it any longer. With trembling voice I blurt it out right then and there, to my family’s utmost shock:
“Mom… I am a vegetarian”.
In a country of unapologetic carnivores, where the vernacular is peppered with witty references to how delicious meat is, it can sometimes be very hard to be a vegetarian.
My father, of course, never accepted it. He thinks vegetarians can be “converted” back to the rightful path of the meat-eaters. The rest of my family left me alone. My friends nicely offered a vegetarian choice when they invited me, and my mom jokingly suggested: “slaughtering an eggplant” for dinner when I visited.
Eating out, however, was a real challenge. When telling a waiter that I was a vegetarian (crossing my fingers and hoping that there would be something I could eat somewhere in the kitchen) it was not rare for them to stare at me like I had an arm sticking out of my forehead.
“But you eat chicken, don’t you?”.
“Did that chicken grow from a tree?”
After a few months of a total ban on meat I decided I had to compromise, or else I would become an outcast of society. I decided to at least eat fish (and the occasional serrano). Now when I tell people “I don’t eat meat… but I eat fish” they look at me in a different way: Like I am not a complete loon.
“Hey, repollo guisado is not a salad!”
I can hear the screams from here. It is a trick to get the salad-haters to eat their vegetables by introducing them to this very humble, but very tasty and healthy Dominican dish. This is a great side dish if you are a vegan or vegetarian, and, if not, it goes great with your choice of grilled meat.
Repollo Guisado - Recipe & Video (Cabbage Stew)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion , cut into strips
- 1 clove of garlic , crushed
- 1 bell pepper , cut into strips
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1/4 head of cabbage , shredded
- 1/3 cup Holland House white wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup of water
- 1 teaspoon of salt (or more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon of hot sauce of your preference (or more to taste)
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.
- Cook and stir the onions and garlic until the onions become translucent. Add the bell pepper and tomatoes. Cook over low heat for 3 minutes. Add the tomato sauce.
- Stir in the cabbage, vinegar and water and simmer over very low heat until the cabbage is wilted (about 5 mins.).
- Season with salt and hot sauce to taste. Serve with rice.
This post is sponsored by Holland House. I have received compensation and products to create this recipe, but these opinions are 100% mine.