I don’t eat out very often. Even for cheat meals, David and I tend to order in. The main problem with eating out, however, even at a cheat meal, is the lack of vegetarian protein available at most restaurants. We live in a pretty meat and potatoes town; after all, the chicken wing was invented here. There are all-American diners in every neighborhood. There are pizzerias on every corner. In most restaurants around here, vegetarian means either pasta or beans. Neither of these options contains the kind of quality protein (or the appropriate amounts of protein) for someone on a muscle building program.
I, however, have adapted. I have a large purse. And I own tons of tupperware. So going out to eat — even to someone else’s house — usually entails a container of tofu and a few hard-boiled egg whites. All I need is a few salad options, and I can still eat with family and friends, despite the limitations of most restaurant menus.
On Saturday, I had to put my traveling tofu to work twice. David’s stepfather turned 80 yesterday, and his former band students threw him a luncheon. Despite the fact that the luncheon was held at a fairly traditional restaurant, I managed. Giant salad, olives, tomatoes, feta — and my secret stash of tupperware tofu.
On Saturday night, dinner was at David’s mother’s house to continue the birthday celebrations. David’s mother and brother are both vegetarian, but their protein needs don’t really match mine. So I often bring tofu and egg whites to dinners with them. I’ve done it so often, I think they kind of expect it. I mentioned to David that I sometimes worry that people will be offended by my tupperware, but he said, “No, not my family anyway. They’re used to you by now.”
That’s the kind of support that makes me smile. Many people would think my tupperware tofu is ridiculous, and to a certain extent, in a food culture that presumes that eating junk is the only way to enjoy food, my tupperware tofu probably is “ridiculous” since it’s not the norm. But because I have such supportive family and friends, I don’t have to feel pressured to “just eat” foods I otherwise wouldn’t. And more importantly, I can still be part of all these gatherings, despite the fact that these gatherings tend to center on food. That means a lot to me — for me, the people at those parties are far more important than the food. That’s the part of the party I’d hate to miss.