Po Boy Views
76 Year Old Virgin
So, 2020 is a new year for me, a new beginning, out with the old, in with the new; firstly, I’m going to forgo dead meat and eat only plant based (don’t say vegan!) food and secondly, I’ve quit my lucrative side job to hunt down a full time cooking position in a vegan (plant based) restaurant. Both are going to be more than challenging.
First of all, as far as employment, my age works against me. Warning to all ‘mature’ applicants: be aware that you can have boatloads of experience with a resume up the wazoo and still be passed over for someone younger and probably better looking than you; you can bring passion and professionalism to the table and still they’ll hire the server’s sibling. Dress for success, interview well, have qualifications, and a young squirrel can/will pass you at the finish line. It happens, it’s factual ageism. Listen, I enjoy seeing what’s considered our ‘new day’ countenances, attitudes and energies as much as the next person, I really do; what I object to, is bright eyed and bushy tailed being a deciding factor in employment opportunities. I’m fully aware that I can’t sing, I ain’t pretty and my legs are thin; but I can work with a song in my heart, a smile on my face and I can glide around a kitchen like Fred Astaire.
Going vegan, on the other hand, is almost a no brainer. My mate is a 98% vegan and I do all the cooking at home. Although I’m leaving a life where I profess that “I’d eat the paint off a chair”, feeding ourselves will be a cool runnin’. Also, I’ve been training for my next gig by cooking, sometimes for hours, more complicated plant based victuals at home: vegan cheeses, croissants, tempeh, seitan, (did you know spell-check doesn’t know those words?), breakfast sausage, egg replacer, aquafaba (that one either), crème brulee (YES!).
Being vegan comes with conditions and stipulations. Do you wear leather? What about honey? Chocolate? I fall into the category of being a ‘non-militant vegan’ as opposed to a ‘zealot vegan’. What’s the diff? Non-militant Vegans will eat ‘meat and dairy substitutes’ and Zealot Vegans are more serious, eating (what do I know?) only birdseed and dandelions? However; I am a health conscious eating machine, meaning I try to eat right, but what about beer and potato chips? How about that Impossible Burger at the King? Can I just pick the pepperoni off the pizza? What about road kill?
I find myself driving slower about town. I pass by my favorite fried chicken place; my EX-fried chicken place, I feel like I’m stalking a former lover. Same goes for that gumbo joint where I could be sure of anemic crab bodies and a chicken neck or two. Crescent City Steak House brings a tear to my eye. The oysters that I’ll never eat again, andouille sausage, boudin, muffulettas and tell me, what am I gonna do come crawfish season where C&J Seafood toss them in garlic, butter and ginger spicy hot? I’ll miss mouth watering Po Boys at the Orange House and Parkway, but, you know, I’ve got to do this.
First of all eating a plant based diet is good for the planet and your body; and, you’re not killing, slaughtering or taking the life of a fellow being, no factory farming is in question, no blood lust brutality and, really, there’s no good reason not to let life live. You’ll find that folks that hanker for smoked sausage and prime rib will take Fido to the vet for a splinter and would never consider fattening that sucker up for soup or stew. The same goes for Missy Kitten and a variety of birds from pigeons to parrots. In my former life I would say “where’s that line? If you’re gonna eat one animal why not eat ‘em all? What’s the difference between pork and a palomino except the size of the pan and how much garlic to use?”
I know, I know it’s February and I should be concerned with Carnival, Valentine’s, and various festivals from foot races to fancy clothes; musical events from Broadway to Backstreet rhythms. I should be enjoying my life and time at this point at my age and not be trying to challenge myself to master new frontiers. You know what I did in my final days before veganism? I went to John and Mary’s and got a boiled turkey neck and a spicy pig’s foot to have for lunch, I drank a YooHoo chocolate beverage and ate cheesecake with gobs and gobs of cream that I whipped up myself. I had a tres leches at Norma’s. It was like that last encounter with a lover when you know the next morning you’re going to move on. Like leaving home and starting over in a new town as a virgin. Like a leap of faith.
Why am I doing this? That’s a good question that I’ve asked myself that more than a few times. I realize that from a culinary standpoint I will be as lonely as a polecat in somebody’s front yard; that dining out will be near impossible unless I frequent ‘alternative’ cafes; that I will have to ask a lot of questions about my menu selections and by having to defend my choices. I’ll be that pain in the ass customer. But I feel good about this.
And from an employment viewpoint, maybe I just want to prove to myself and the world that I am still a viable human being that has what it takes to contribute to a functioning enterprise with a mission statement that is goal and profit oriented. And besides that, I can cook. Wish me luck.