When my husband and I decided to commit to eating a vegetarian diet, we enjoyed trying out a lot of new vegetarian dishes and were on a “honeymoon” of sorts with our new lifestyle for quite some time. Everything was new and we were feeling better by the day. The Food Network’s collection of vegetarian recipes was a real lifesaver for me then.
However, after a couple of years we started to get a bit bored.
Despite the fact that I live to cook and have a list of cooking shows that I can’t miss, we were in a rut. We had a handful of tried and true dishes that we relied on from week to week. It took us a while to realize that the reason we weren’t looking forward to dinner anymore was that we’d had it the week before.
I had a small arsenal of favorite wraps, sandwiches, soups and pastas that I turned to every time when preparing a meal. They were all delicious, but even really good chocolate gets old if you eat it at every meal. Well, that may not be true……but you get the idea.
My husband and I have been fortunate enough to travel a great deal, especially throughout Europe.
There were a number of traditional dishes that I loved and cooked before we’d changed our diets. It finally hit me that I could shake up our menu now by making an adventure of discovering vegetarian cuisine from other countries.
We really got into the idea, even though we felt a bit silly now and then, by doing something of a culinary immersion.
The month that we were “doing” Italy, we drank only Italian wines, played opera and Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin at dinner and even watched some fun Italian comedies on Netflix on the weekends. Throughout, we fell in love with eating again, thanks to delicious new dishes like polenta with braised tomatoes and beans, radicchio, endive and carrot salad and risi e bisi (rice and peas-sounds simple but the flavors are wonderfully complex). Some of the best Italian dishes I found were from Giada DiLaurentis at the Food Network. Check out her recipe for Goat Cheese, lentil and Brown Rice Rolls-it’s incredibly good.
Another month, we decided to target France.
I’ve always loved French food, especially the classic meat dishes. Somehow, I’d failed to appreciate the wonderful love affair the French have with vegetarian meals. So dishes like authentic ratatouille, potatoes Dauphinoise, cauliflower au gratin (nothing like the American version) and Gruyere soufflés were a real treat. And yes, we drank French wines, listened to a lot of Chevalier and developed
a real appreciation for Gerard Depardieu.
We continued this culinary exploration through Greece (orzo with zucchini and sun dried tomatoes is a new favorite), Morocco, Ethiopia and several other exotic locations.
It wasn’t all delicious, but it was completely fun.
Not only did we have a good time discovering new foods, we also made sure that we won’t hot another rut any time soon. I now have dozens and dozens of exotic dishes that I can depend on to rouse our taste buds at any meal.
If you’re finding yourself unexcited about dinner or trying to come up with yet another new salad dressing to disguise the same old salad, maybe you should go on a world tour of your own. You don’t have to go so far as the wine, the music or the foreign movies, but I’ll tell you–it sure added to the fun.