A big challenge for me has been the diet of the people around me — particularly that of my better half (I’ll call him Finick).
I don’t have issue with the consumption of meat. I admit that the smell of his burger sizzling in the skillet made my mouth water, and that I watched with some small amount of longing as he dug in after a guilty glance at me across the table. “I’m sorry.”
“No. Don’t feel bad for me,” I said, dragging my eyes back to my own very tastey plate of thai eggplant and black rice. It was one of the mistakes I used to make, oh, about 15 years ago, when I first heard of vegetarians. (You don’t really run across many vegs in a Hispanic community, at least not in the ’80s, and when/ if you did, it was harshly frowned upon as an unhealthy diet.) It took a lot for me to realize that it’s not a pointless deprivation. Vegetables are amazing and there are so many ways to prepare them. But back to the dinner table. Once I started eating I lost all interest in his food.
“That looks really good. What is it?”
“It’s so good. Want to try it? It’s eggplant.”
“What? No. Why would I eat that? It’s named after two things I don’t like combined.”
Poor Finick. He’s not just another meat-and-potatoes type of guy. I rolled my eyes when he first mentioned food sensitivity. But watching him eat (or not), after a while I couldn’t ignore
the insanity the peculiarities of a severe food texture sensitivity. When it comes right down to it, I think he’s the one that’s deprived. There is so much food he can’t eat and so much he won’t even try. How am I going to reconcile the lifestyle I want with his needs?
With the palate and fastidiousness of a child, getting him to eat fruits and vegetables regularly, in a way that he can stomach and I can still eat, will be a challenge. I figured soups were a good place to start. The heavy, creamy, sodium-rich soups he’s used to aren’t an option. I had to find a soup that was fresh and had lots of veggies but was smooth and didn’t have an overwhelming flavor.
To that end, I tried out this recipe from La Tartine Gourmande. It was actually really easy to make because I used pre-cut butternut squash from Sprouts. I loved that it’s a thick soup and the texture reminds me of my mom’s creamy carrot or tomato soups, but it’s still vegan (if you omit the creme fraiche like I did). Best of all, it got the Finick stamp of approval. I know he won’t always try the things I make, but at least soups seem to be the easiest way into his stomach.
I made the soup a second time for Thanksgiving dinner with my family (it was a big hit with them as well), and I had to peel and chop the squash myself. I nearly lost two fingers but I have to admit, I think the soup turned out better with the fresh squash and that is probably what I will use the next time I make it—though I will chop very carefully. I’m very curious what this soup will taste like with other types of squash and I look forward to experimenting with it.