Every 28 days, I crave meat. Bacon. Hamburgers. Skirt Steak. The desire always presages what, in the parlance of our times, is quaintly referred to as “that time of the month.”
For three years, however, I dated a man who was macrobiotic. A man who never ate red meat. Around him, my carnivorous urges felt embarrassing. Shameful even.
Helpless to stop the hormonal deluge, I spared him my animalistic longings by sucking bones in secret. Returning from these sanguinary sessions, I’d fear that he’d taste charcoal on my breath or spot an incriminating barbecue stain on my collar, thereby dooming the relationship forever.
Yet despite our gustatory differences, I found myself falling in love. And so, as lovers often do, I hid from him the more salacious details of my past culinary dalliances, like the time I ate a bucket of Hecky’s Ribs after a failed audition or when an ex-boyfriend and I took mushrooms then ordered one too many burritos from a Mexican place on Chicago’s West side whose cleanliness was highly questionable.
I was ultimately humbled though by his nutritional certitude. Of course it was wrong to eat animals, any fool with a graduate degree knew that. If I was honest, I’d even shared his beliefs, back when I was an idealistic vegetarian sleeping on futons and lugging casseroles to potlucks in my hubristic youth.
It was New York that hardened me, I now realized. In a city requiring testosterone to survive, I’d become unfeminine by eating meat. With his help, I’d change my evil ways. Become pure again. Virginal. Or at least a respectable pescatarian.
In all fairness, he was a fabulous cook. One of the best I’ve ever had. He could do things with miso and seaweed no man had ever done for me before. And his wild Atlantic salmon — steamed simply with garlic, ginger, and tamari — was a revelation; fish still redolent of its aquatic self.
But the relationship wasn’t without challenges. Problems began as early as our third date when I suggested eating at a restaurant; a proposition he found distasteful. It wasn’t until years later — once we were already enmeshed — that he explained his belief that our constitutions are affected not only by what we eat, but by the manner in which food is prepared. Enjoying a meal born out of a chaotic restaurant environment was for him as abhorrent as ingesting sewage. Needless to say, we dined almost exclusively at home.
Still it pained me when, after nearly three years of romantic and culinary bliss, I nonetheless felt compelled to admit that I’d grown weary of our all-macrobiotic diet, and wondered if we could perhaps spice things up a bit, you know, cook something Italian or French, say, using only locally grown and organic products, of course.
The situation worsened a few months later when I asked, gently I thought, if we could eat out once a month, his manhood seemingly bruised by the suggestion.
Then one night, as we sipped kukicha tea in the living room after another of his healthy and delicious meals, he said impassively that he thought it might be best if I moved back to my own house, where I’d thankfully kept a second set of dishes, anticipating just such a moment.
The discovery a few weeks later that he’d been cheating on me was admittedly a shock. Yet I found myself oddly comforted when I learned about the woman who’d stolen his heart and satisfied his appetites where my own attempts had failed.
Understandably, she was Japanese.