Meat Free Weakling

Pelicans, Mogo, NSW

It’s now Wednesday, and I’ve been meat-free since Monday – along with a host of other good folk who are now also on Meat & Livestock Australia’s hit list.

Except I didn’t read the rules properly, so last night’s dinner wasn’t strictly negatively meat-geared, seeing as I made a salade niçoise (or at least, a semblance of a salade niçoise, as I’d not been shopping since arriving home from my Driving Miss Rosie road trip – of which more later). Mine had no green beans for a start (the salad; not the road trip), but instead, the inspired addition of peeled frozen broad beans (ah McCain, you’ve done it again). It seems the rules say that seafood’s out – even canned tuna, though that hardly resembles fish as we know it, surely.

Dammit – I’m going to have to add a day on at the end so as to not lose face. This is not the first time I’ve not read the instructions properly before embarking on a project. That’s what men are for, isn’t it?

Thankfully, tonight’s meal was far more vegetationally appropriate – falafels (no, I didn’t make them myself – what am I, someone with a life?) with grated beetroot dressed with pomegranate molasses (you can tell already that I’ve not been following any of the great recipes provided to the Meat Free Week website by luminaries such as Maggie Beer, Bill Granger and Simon Bryant, can’t you?), a head-spinningly garlicky tsatsiki, and spiced couscous with pinenuts and loads of chopped fresh coriander. Not ’alf bad actually – even the deeply carnivorous silver fox went in for seconds.

We will, however, be housebound for a week due to our fetid garlic breath.

Marco Pierre White should definitely cut out the meat. His odious, incessant screaming during the finale of MasterChef: The Professionals was a sure sign of too much animal protein, and enough to make me yearn to feed him to a herd of ravening pigs. Or at least see him explode in a million high-blood-pressure pieces. I’ve been to a few exceptional restaurants recently, and in each one, the atmosphere emanating from the kitchen was one of calm, creative purpose. No 1980s histrionics, no sweaty, eye-rolling, hair-flicking blunderbussing – just clever, dedicated young chefs making gorgeous food.

MPW – you’re a bloody dinosaur. And you’re even more repugnant when you come over all posh and silky and spout platitudes that would make Oprah blush.

And sorry, blog-mates, if I’m a bit late with this tirade – but it’s taken me a couple of days to stop feeling soiled by the experience. I’d managed to avoid the entire series, but it was all we could get on the telly at our holiday home last Sunday night. Leek and lobster terrine. Give me strength.

So, despite that one low point of our road trip, Driving Miss Rosie proved, for the most part, to be hilarious, scary and delicious in equal measure – full of bad puns, mispronunciations and piss-taking – and that was just reading the restaurant menus. Typically, the highlight for Miss Rosie was a Sunday outing to a dust mote of a place on the Princes Highway called Mogo, where a quaint row of shops can be found positively busting at the seams with knick-knackery.

It was retail heaven for my “shallow” mother (her words, not mine) and a source of much photographic pleasure for moi. The third member of our party (a chocolate labrador of some repute, as those of you who’ve read today’s previous post will know) bore this particular sortie with uncommon fortitude, or perhaps it was simply exhaustion from her twice-daily bush-walking, rock-scrambling, tide-defying, stick-fetching, sand-digging and wave-riding. Suffice to say, a forest-worth of greetings cards was purchased by Miss Rosie, along with funny presents for her cronies back at the retirement “village of the damned” (again, her words, not mine). These comprised five centimetre-square blocks of wood, with instructions written on them to set them on the ground, and then walk around them, thus allowing the perambulator to say they’d had sufficient exercise, as they’d “walked around the block”.

That was the scary part of the trip.

The delicious part of the trip I can’t talk about yet, due to aforementioned contractual obligations. And fair enough. But I can say that when it was good, it was very, very good; and when it was bad, it was horrid.

I also ate quite a lot of meat, so Meat Free Week has come at just the right time. And not just for the animals.

Should you be feeling generous, or just sorry for someone who should have learned by now to read the sodding instructions first, you can sponsor me on my page at Meat Free Week. The silver fox has – even though I had to fill out all his stuff on the website myself. All donations go to Voiceless, the organisation dedicated to animal protection and welfare, particularly with regard to factory farming. And thanks, if you do.