November 22 2019
How I lost my vegetarian virginity
I was brought up vegetarian. As a child, toast and honey was (and, to an extent, still is) the bedrock of my diet. On a semi-commune in Wales – so ‘semi’ that my family were pretty much the only permanent members – I more or less lived on homemade potato cakes, flapjacks, wholemeal bread, cheese and Ribena. When our taste of The Good Life ended with a move back to Liverpool, the food I most associate with my pre-teenage years is hummus, halva and Twix bars, the pork chops, stews and Sunday roasts of which my friends spoke being as alien and mysterious to me as my family’s ‘exotic’ menus were to them.
And then I discovered Eric’s.
Eric’s was to Liverpool what CBGBs was to New York – part music venue, part way of life. The bands I saw play there went on to become legendary, but to a disenfranchised 14 year old, Joy Division, The Ramones and Elvis Costello failed to fascinate. The cafe, however, completely captivated my imagination, the hot dogs, burgers and bacon sarnies being far more enticing than the wraps of mysterious white powder that the ‘chef’ kept tucked alongside the small change in the till. And so it came to pass that just before my 15th birthday, I lost my vegetarian virginity to a Plumrose look-a-like in a stale white bun; the brine-boiled onions provided the foreplay, the vinegar-diluted ketchup the afterglow. Forbidden fruit never tasted so good, but rebellion tasted even better.
The family were informed the very next day, probably via something along the lines of, “IhateyousoI’veeatenahotdog!”. “Oh darling, a hot dog isn’t even food, let alone meat”, murmured my serene, unflappable mother. “You must be starving. Have a falafel.”
The moral of this tale? Keep Mum – she really does know best.
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