When it comes to food, I have been raised with a meat-and-three-veg approach of level headed moderation.
I was raised with a BBQ on the deck, cordial in the fridge, a penchant for devon sandwiches, and twelve months of country boarding school thrown in for good measure. (Three years as an impoverished Arts student contributed to my not-so-precious palette, too.) Picky eater? Not me, sir!
However, encircled with family and friends whose ease of eating is marred with a variety of allergies, veganism, vegetarianism, activism, food intolerances and tolerance issues in general; I have become something of an anomaly.
I eat bread. I eat sugar. I eat meat. I even drink cow’s milk.
You would think this would make my life easy, wouldn’t you?
Alas, my life as an Easy Eater had a head on collision with the goji berry yogis and nut-butter nutters for the first time last weekend, at a friend’s four-day ‘wedstival’ in the Kangaroo Valley.
It was the War of The Meat Pie.
It all began when my boyfriend, his sister, and I were in the car together, ready to pull out of the country town we were staying in to head back to Sydney. They are vegetarians, you see, which means not only do they choose not to eat meat, they choose to tell me at every given opportunity not to eat meat, too.
“Wait, wait. I need a coffee. Anyone want anything?”
I looked around the car to two rather bleak faces. It was Australia Day, and nothing was open. The only option we had was the local bakery, which, without any kind of organic signage, was not exactly up their alley.
“Yes, a coffee. And something to eat. SOMETHING VEGETARIAN.” My boyfriend gave me a stern look. His sister, an even sterner vegetarian but still a very nice person, shook her head politely.
Off I trotted into the local bakery. Oooh! I squealed internally. Freshly baked bread! Creamy neenish tarts! Tangy passionfruit slice and…oh wow, look at those pies. Golden, flakey, true-blue Aussie meat pies. After ordering the coffees and some kind of vegetarian pastry for my dear partner, I pointed to the chunky steak pie.
“I’ll take a pie, thanks.”
The jolly little woman with her lipstick drawn well outside her lips beamed at me at she bundled my freshly baked pie into a paper bag.
“I threw the sauce in for free, love. Happy Australia Day.” With a wink she turned back to the cash register and I stepped through the plastic fly screen flaps with a happy heart.
A meat pie on Australia Day. With free tommy sauce. Could life get any better?
Jumping back in the car, I handed my partner his very vegetarian pastry and coffee as he started the engine. Grinning, I plucked my pie from its foil and doused it in tomato sauce. The first bite was heaven, the kind of rich chunky steak pie you only really find in country towns. But something was not right.