Thursday, July 2, 2009

Three True Stories

This all happened about thirty minutes ago, within the time span of thirty minutes.

I'm on a retreat. The food at the retreat center is...retreaty. Nothing to get excited about. As I was leaving to get food tonight I was stopped at the door. Someone said, "I hear it's tofu tonight. Vegetables and rice. So I'm not going to be going. Who can eat that stuff?" "" I said. This is the first dinner where the main course wouldn't have meat in it. So I got sort of excited. I continued on my way to the "mess hall."

No sooner had I sat down to my Asian tofu than a woman enters, walks up to the buffet and calls out to a staff member, "Miss? Miss!" and then walks over to her. "Is all of that on the buffet tofu? I heard you were doing tofu tonight and I'm not interested in tofu. We'll go somewhere else if all you have is tofu." I stopped mid-bite to watch. (What can I say? I needed some blog content.) Was she berating this woman for having tofu on the bar? In addition to tofu there was an extensive salad bar, a variety of fruit options, lentil soup and, yes, meat. Deep fried chicken nugget-like things. And beef. There is no mistaking beef for tofu. You know that. It's beef. What was more surprising to me wasn't that the lady, clearly incensed that there was tofu on the bar near the meat options, but that she couldn't have skipped meat for one meal if it had been the case.

What happened next was almost as surprising. A mom, talking to the folks at the table, in response to someone pointing out what a good eater her child is laughs and says, "yes! He's the only one who'll eat vegetables, but look at all this dressing!" I look at the salad - a piece of broccoli winks at me from beneath the white creaminess.

Last of the three stories (and perhaps it's just one big story). Get back from dinner. The tofu was spicy and to my mind, pretty good for retreat food. A group is heading out to dinner. They say they heard there was tofu, vegetables and rice for dinner. They want real food, they tell me. "Sure, some people might eat that stuff, but we're sure not going to, we're going out for fast food," one of the teenagers says. I stand there unsure of what to say. So I shrug and come upstairs. To wonder about where we're all headed.


  1. It boggles my mind that in 2009 people still think tofu isn't real food. That was a depressing post Gwendolyn. But I'm glad we're getting the word out, one little blog post at a time.

    By the way this year marks our tenth year without a bite of land animals! Maybe we can say goodbye to the fish dishes in the next ten?

  2. Scary, isn't it? I felt this way after last summer reading Michael Pollan's books. Definitely affected the way I shop for food now.

    Yes, let's do coffee sometime! Unsweetened, of course.

  3. P - I want to let go of fish, too. We would have to switch over to smeat or something nasty to compensate. And I'm not quite there yet.

  4. I loooove tofu. And will purposely pick it out of every meal just so I can have ONLY tofu. I'm so weird.

    Anyway, tofu, rice and veggies is real food. Yesterday I was in a rush for some reason and I passed by a McD's. Normally I'd stop but what I really wanted was REAL food. Like grains and stuff (but only half of course, Patrick).

    Now back to dreaming of tofu before I purchase a ton of fruits and veggies.