Sunday, 6 July 2014

When Vegans Come to Town

5 days before the wedding...
5 days before Emileigh's wedding, she contracted some awful virus that sent her to urgent care.  This was the first time in her whole life we had taken her to the hospital…for anything.  She couldn't keep liquids down, had fever and was unable to walk.  After a couple IVs later and a few days rest, she piped up on Thursday and said, "I sure could go for a steak."  We knew then that she was on the road to recovery.  She simply loves meat. 
The sign says it all.

Aria, on the other hand, is a "conscientious omnivore."  I'm still learning what that is, but basically she will eat certain kinds of meat, but leans heavily toward fruits and veggies.

John and I fall somewhere in between.  This is not a matter of conviction for us as much as it is availability.  When you see the carcass of a cow thrown into the back of a box truck in 115º weather being delivered to your local grocery store, you suddenly become a vegetarian for the week.  Other times a nice frozen pack of chicken will arrive and you are back to being a carnivore.

A couple weeks ago, a friend of a friend told us about two cyclists that were making their way through Africa and were currently in our city.  Now we've already hosted a Russian backpacker and a Korean cyclist, so we're open to meeting new friends.  We arranged to meet them at McDonald's (the best known landmark for foreigners in town) and visit with them.

They were a great couple in their 30s who had taken a break from their normal work lives and had decided to bike from France to South Africa.  They had been successful right up until the point they wished to enter Sudan.  That's when the complications arose.  (There seems to be a pattern.)  Seth* is a Canadian with which the Sudanese government has no issues.  Samantha* is American and Sudan has a lot of issues with the U.S.  They simply wouldn't approve a visa for her travels in the country.  So they've been in a holding pattern here in our city for almost 2 months.

While they've been waiting, they have made the rounds meeting some of the people who live here.  They had heard that we had lived in Sudan so they wanted to meet us for any advice or tips we may have.  Thus, the meeting at McDonald's.

Since John and I have taken to the "clean way of eating" McDonald's hasn't been in our routine for many months now, but again it's an easy landmark.  We arrived and had no problem picking out Seth and Samantha.  We greeted one another and asked if they would like to go order something.  They shook their heads no and said they'd wait for us.

More delicious.
We weren't sure what to do.  We didn't want to be rude and eat in front of them, but we also didn't want to go hungry.  We asked again and they assured us they were fine.  We placed our order and rejoined them at the table.  As we began introducing ourselves, Samantha smiled and said, "You know how you know a vegan?"  I shook my head no.  She replied, "They will tell you that they are vegans in the first five minutes of conversation."

Ah.  Vegans.  McDonald's.  Completely incompatible.  Good call, Pam.  

They were gracious and continued drinking their delicious, completely pure and free-range water.  I ate my McChicken smiling the whole time.

Now when's the main dish coming?
They could see no foreseeable visa in sight for Sudan, so we invited them for a visit to our home on another day.  They arrived in the afternoon enjoying the feel of a home after having been gone from theirs for almost a year.  As we conversed, we discovered Samantha was a pastry chef in France.  OH MY WORD!  There are a lot of good things about Egypt, but pastries is not one of them.  This could be the answer to my secret Panera longing.  I tried to conceal my exuberance at this information and said, "Oh, how nice."  (I immediately began thinking of ingredients in my cabinet.)

Seth is a genetic biologist who does things I can't repeat simply because I have no idea what he said.  It was all very scientific and things, but seriously I couldn't keep up.  He's smart.  Let's leave it at that.

New Friends
As the visit progressed, I tried to think of things to serve them.  We had already had tea and cookies, but now what?  I grabbed some nectarines and cashews.  (Those aren't offensive, are they?)  I tried to find other items.  Aria found some figs and dates.  We added those to the mix.  As dinner time approached, I was at a loss.  I HAVE NO TOFU.  WHAT DO I DO NOW?!

Fortunately, they were quite satisfied with what I had set out.  They left us a bit later and said, "We will come cook for you sometime!"

This was not an empty offer.  They arrived the next week complete with bags of groceries and began cooking up a storm.  I was intrigued to see what vegans would create.  I was not disappointed.  Such an array of great food.  We invited our Australian friend over too and soon our United Nations dinner was ready.

What a great time we had!  What good friends and terrific food!  We've always told our girls, "Keep your circle wide. You'll meet interesting people that way and it will keep you from getting weird."  

Vegan cyclists.  Yes, more fun friends for the books.  This life is never dull.

*Not their real names

A maple bacon donut for John from Emileigh and Jacob

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