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Food + Cooking

Being Flexible

the flexitarian table

When I met my wife (before she was my wife), she was a vegan. Everyone who knows me called it a cruel irony: a joke played out by the laughing god of vegetables as he shot his carrot-shaped lighting rod right through my bleeding animal-protein heart. It showed me that trite expressions (“opposites attract”) have practical applications.

Marriage is all about compromise, so now I eat my fair share of soy-based stuff. She’s come to eat dairy, eggs, even an occasional piece of fish—which I consider a triumph beyond words.

But it turns out we’re not the only couple with this issue. Recently I was handed a book called The Flexitarian Table by Peter Berley. Peter doesn’t know this, but he is our new marriage counselor. In addition to coining a new word, which will undoubtedly haunt us for years to come, he has successfully issued a cease-fire at the dinner table. His ingeniously designed menus offer alternative proteins. The starters, sides, seasonings, and desserts work for everyone, while the protein is easily exchangeable.

For instance, I love his recipe for Lemon-Thyme Roast Chicken (p. 197) and my wife refuses to eat it. No problem. Peter substitutes Tofu (p. 199) and everybody’s happy. Say my wife loves his recipe for Seitan Schnitzel (she does) and I think seitan tastes like dirt (I do). No problem. He trades chicken livers for the seitan and our relationship is saved.

In the last two weeks, The Flexitarian Table has become the most used book in our house. The recipes are simple and delicious, and most importantly everyone is happy to sit down and eat. We can’t thank Peter enough.