In Italy we have the saying "Christmas with yours, Easter with whom you like most," (Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi). I have been in the capital for two years and this second one passed really fast for me. Without realizing it, we are already well on the way towards December 25th, but this time I won’t be able to spend it with my family back in Italy.
They all know what I love and spend hours telling me about their preparations, how the family menu will look, and how many desserts there will be on the table, as I am on the opposite side of the screen, watching my mum in the kitchen as she excitedly shows me the already-bought ingredients. How do I feel?? Saliva flows out of my mouth and I suddenly feel sad.
How can I spend a Christmas lunch without my mum’s delicious vegetarian menu?
This one is is going to be spent here, with friends, and that is a good thing. The bad news is that I am the only vegetarian, and I won’t have my mum cooking for me. So I needed to prepare myself accordingly. I need talk to my friends about this as well, but what I will say? Well, here are some options:
Option 1 – I host the Christmas lunch. This is easy; I can decide the menu and make it veggie-friendly, but I am not sure how much happy my friends would be.
Option 2 – Go to someone else’s place and they decide the menu. In this case it will be very important to:
- Communicate well in advance. Not everyone knows what to cook for vegetarians so I will need to speak to the host in advance.
- Joke about vegetarianism. Yes, the veggie jokes may still come up over lunch so making a bit of fun of myself will be my tactic. After all, they’re the ones eating the same boring and predictable food as last year!
- Thank my host if they have put in the effort and prepare a lovely veggie option for me. I hope this will encourage them to eat more vegetarian food as well.
- Show my veggie status. I will be happy to contribute to the day with an amazing meat-free dish, to help everyone appreciate the food and (hopefully) realize that being vegetarian isn’t all about salad!
Option 3 – Hope one of my non-vegetarian friends reads this blog post. This way they have host me at their place and rack their brains about what to cook for me. Here some tips for you my friend:
- Let’s have a chat in advance. I don’t have any food allergies or ingredients I simply don’t like (apart from meat) but remember to check it with your other guests!
- Read the labels. Supermarkets and food companies are now very good at labeling foods that are vegetarian, so it won’t be so difficult to find something out there for me.
- Make plenty. Food that is suitable for vegetarians isn’t just for vegetarians and the meat-eaters will definitely want a taste as well. So remember: the more you cook, the happier us guests will be!
- Keep the roast potatoes and other veggies separate from the meat. Please remember to cook the potatoes in a vegetable oil and keep them away from meat, otherwise I can’t eat them.
And what’s one of the best things about Christmas for a Vegetarian? At least we no dot have problem with cakes!
So… who is going to bring the panettone this year??
Alice Bianchi is a certified health coach based in Beijing. She has a passion for working with individuals and families to improve their health and lifestyle. Alice strives to create a supportive environment to motivate her clients to achieve their current and future health goals. She received her training at Institute for Integrative Nutrition-New York (IIN) and is a member of the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP). She has obtained Continuing Education from Venice University, Beijing Capital Normal University, Taipei University, Peking University and has been living in China for the past seven years. Alice is also actively involved in the Slow Food Beijing planning activities (www.slowfood-beijing.org). For more information, visit her blog at www.wellbeingnourish.com.