A couple of years back, my family adopted a new tradition: Meatless Mondays. We didn't have to take a pledge or sign any papers. We just all agreed that for dinner at the beginning of every week, we would forgo our usual meaty treats. Instead we have lots of beans. And leafy things. And cheese. A world of difficult to handle vegetables can be managed through proper cheese distribution. Lots of cheese distribution.
My son and I are the hardcore carnivores. My wife is the one who has, at different points in her life, lived happily without meat for months at a time. She is one who relishes a nice relish. Or a salad. My son and I are the type who gnaw on carrots or crunch great hunks of iceberg lettuce with Ranch dressing to fill out that portion of the food pyramid, always keeping in mind that that the base is formed by beef, chicken, and pork. In this way, we are not picky. We will eat a wide variety of meat. Tuesday through Sunday. We are good sports on Monday.
That's why this past week was such a nasty surprise. On Monday, as we sat down for our spanikopita, there was discussion of our day, returning back to the working grind after the holidays, and planning for the upcoming week. "We could have Sloppy Joes tomorrow," suggested my wife. My son and I paused in our willful consumption of tiny spinach pies and nodded in hearty agreement. Most agreements made involving meat are hearty.
The next night, not a meatless one, my son and I were called to dinner. We were offered up our plates, toasted buns arranged for easy preparation. Then we went to the pot to spoon up our ground beef and tasty sauce. As we opened the pot, my wife's disclaimer came along with our confusion: "I put some chard into the Sloppy Joes," she confessed.
Now, I don't think I would have minded if, on Monday night we had been enjoying our vegetarian repast and my wife had said something like, "I've got some extra chard, and I was thinking about adding it to our Sloppy Joe recipe tomorrow." This kind of announcement would have been met with some groaning and a hint of derision. Eventually, we would have passed through the various stages of Sloppy Joe grief and landed on Acceptance. It wasn't the chard being inserted into our meaty treat as much as the manner in which the chard was secreted into the mix.
Did we reject the meal, my son and I? No. There was Sloppy Joe somewhere amidst the purplish green of the purloined chard. We ate our fill, and we expressed our gratitude with an evening full of sarcasm and jests about how we could now expect all our meals to be infused with chard. On the sly. In our breakfast cereal. In our egg salad. In our sauteed Swiss Chard. That would be the chard in addition to the chard already found in sauteed Swiss Chard.
Don't get me wrong. I'm happy to have someone looking after my health and well being. Heaven knows I could use as much help getting more vitamins and leafy things into me as I can get. Even more so for my son. He's a growing boy. Just don't sneak them in. Just like I want to know if the chard I am eating has been genetically modified, I want to know what's in my Sloppy Joe. It should be right there on the label.