Thursday, February 02, 2006

Big Brother is watching you

Soundtrack: Mike Nesmith - Nevada Fighter

While I was on holiday I finished Orwell's 1984. The book had unbelievable foresight, but the thing that astounds me most is the linguistic effect it had on the world. In the last week alone I've heard the phrases Big Brother (can't escape that one), Room 101, false memories, doublethink, Thought Police... We claimed most things on holiday to be doubleplusgood, except eating out, which for me was very ungood.

I understand that it's France, and I understand that it's quite a carnivorous culture. But even in Benidorm with the intriguing veggie option of 'spring roll and chips', I didn't feel on the verge of tears like I did the one time we ate out in France.

We went to a restaurant called Le Bodega. They had a setmeal for 10EUR (bargain!), and although you had to have what was on it, Verna said it was usually vegetable soup to start, a side salad, and they could whip up an omelette no problem. Fine by me.

We wandered around the Lannemezan Farmer's Market before lunch, and oh my god, I've never seen a display of vegetables like it! Garlic the size of my head, tempting beetroot and various kinds of squash. I was quite optimistic about the lunch after seeing that the region loves its veg. Then off to lunch.

The starter soup is brought out: chicken noodle. More for Thom then.
Can they replace the chicken main course, and rustle up a plain omelette instead? Completely out of the question. Oh, ok. I'll have some sautee potatoes then (cooked in animal fat by the taste of them).
I'll try some salad from the buffet... Half the salads had meat in them. The vegetarian salads (mushrooms, eggs, cous cous) had all run out. Will you be bringing more out? No. So it's all the veg smothered in mayonnaise then. I really am not a fussy eater, but if there's one thing I can't stand in life, it's mayonnaise. It's the gloopiness and slimy texture. Urgh. So there I was, filling my plate with beetroot, cucumber, celeriac and carrot, all doused in mayonnaise. I sat down so downhearted, I was on the verge of tears. In my 5years of being veggie, I've never felt so embarassed, so fussy, and such a hindrance as I did at that meal.

Still, the creme caramel was to die for.


  1. Oh hell, you didn't go to France as a vegetarian did you? I don't think there's even a word for it in French.

    It's easier to be vegetarian in China where they make no bones (sorry!) about eating endagered species.

    I'm quite happy with French food (prefer the Belgian interpretation though) but then again I'll eat pretty much anything. If I was a non meat eater I'd give the place a wide berth!

    1984 is a brilliant book, one of my favourites, and yep, very prescient.

  2. You're not awkward, they are.

    (my broadband's back up!!!!!!!!!)

  3. come back to san francisco, where veggies probably outnumber the carnivores

  4. Creme Caramel?!?

    The best thing about France is Creme Brulee for lunch! Faced with similar difficulties to you in France me and my uncle ordered creme brulee for starter and dessert, with a steak in the middle.

    Yum =)

  5. As a veggie for the past 15 years (ouch, I really am old) I have eaten in many countries but without a doubt the worst is France. The only places I found easy to eat in were the Arab quarters of Paris where you can get decent falafel.

    It's not just that French cooks don't cater for vegetarians it's that they don't seem to respect vegetables as tasty food which really don't need to be smothered in cream and fat in order to taste good. Italy doesn't have many vegetarians either but you can eat fantastically well as a vegetarian in Italy because they do so many nice vegetable based side dishes and pastas.

  6. I listen to Nevada Fighter at least twice a day. I have Mike Nesmith's Best of the Older Stuff and I listen to it at work.

    "And the bygone, half-grown, high-flown cyclone rides"...