Salad for Breakfast

A sheep sheperd meets ‘the vegans’.

EMAN 1 final11

One morning my intern, Kali, opened the refrigerator, looked at the leftover salad and said she was going to throw it out; I told her not to. But it’s slime, she said. I credit her for naming the morning-after salad. There is nothing better than slime for breakfast.

Salad reaches a zenith of perfection after sitting overnight in the refrigerator, the acidic marinade of lemon, vinegar, tamari, honey, olive oil and red onions wilts the lettuce, which, by the way, was said to be psychotropic by the ancient Greeks. (A customer reported that he ate three heads of romaine but didn’t get high, just very full. Socrates must have been on something, a different variety, red leaf perhaps.)

The premise of the pH balance eating theory is that certain foods, the acidic ones, like lemons and vegetables, make the body buffer them, producing an alkaline human system; according to the proponents of pH balance, alkalinity of the blood is the pH of health. Whether or not this is true is of no interest to me. I like acidic foods, you can feel well-being come over you as you slurp the marinade of slime right out of the bowl. Each to his own, but food, like politics and religion, has its extremists.

When I have vegetables for sale at my stand, customers see the lamb on the table and say, “oh, you have meat too,” turning up their noses. I smile and ask if they are vegetarian. I tell them that vegetarianism is healthy, that I like vegetarians, that sheep are vegetarians and I like to eat them. To quote a cynical Steve Martin playing opposite an appalled Debra Winger in “Leap of Faith,” “I never said I was a nice guy.”

Last week I got another veganish statement masquerading as a question: “after you shear them, then you kill them,” stated with a look of disdain that meant: how heartless, you use them, then you slaughter them, you farm ghoul. Yes, I say, but before I kill them, being a flag-waving American, a staunch supporter of the president, one who agrees with him that the constitution is just a piece of paper, I torture them first.

As if on cue, Andrea drops her jaw in astonishment, summarily dismisses me, comforts the poor vegan to save the sale, gets the money and when the customer has left, chastises me for my dyspeptic humor. I shrug and smile. I employ Andrea because she’s an adult, freeing me from that responsibility on market day.

Photo credit: Michael Harlan Turkell. 

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Eugene Wyatt is a shepherd in the Hudson Valley who manages his flock of merino sheep with the help of Poem, an Australian Kelpie sheepdog. Together the shepherd, sheep and sheepdog are Catskill Merino Sheep Farm (www.catskill-merino.com ). On Saturday the farm has a stand at the Greenmarket in Union Square where they sell their lamb, vegetables, and hand-dyed merino yarn.