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.
- 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.