Friday, April 01, 2011

Celebrating 50 years a vegetarian - well almost...

This year it will be approximately 50 years since I excluded meat or fish from my diet.  As a child I would always reject meat and hated fish unless either could be disguised in minced up, highly processed sausage or fish-cake. My parents despaired and eventually gave up trying to encourage me to eat flesh but had the good common sense to feed me lots of fresh vegetables, fruit, eggs and cheese, later followed by new vegetarian dishes that emerged on the market such as nut roast or soya products. We grew some vegetables when young and I remember having my own grave-shaped plot in which I grew a few cabbage and salad crops.

To mark this journey to sustainable vegetarianism, I intend to publish some of my favourite vegetarian recipes developed over a half century of not eating meat or fish. Surprisingly, the term vegetarian wasn't included in our day to day vocabulary back in the 1960s although the term has been in use since 1847. Looking back it was "he doesn't eat meat or fish", as simple as that. I made do when out and made up for it at home. There were brief periods when I could be encouraged to eat a burnt thin slice of crispy bacon or a bit of tinned salmon mixed with breadcrumbs and butter however, these experiments were usually short lived and never to be repeated.

The first recipe will be home-made hummus - simple, nutritious, versatile and tasty. Having made hummus for many years it was only after speaking to a Turkish lady here in Asturias that I started adding cumin. Needless to say, it was the missing link and truly adds depth of flavour to this easy recipe.

350gm cooked chick peas and cooking fluid 
salt - half a teaspoon
garlic 5-6 bulbs (to taste)
2 large dessert spoons of tahini paste
lemon juice
Olive oil
fresh chopped parsley
chopped spring onions
Cumin - 1 teaspoon (to taste)

Blend or mash together chickpeas, tahini, ground garlic with salt, lemon juice with enough of the cooking fluid to form a loose pate type textured spread. Smooth is good but some texture can also be left in the paste. Stir in chopped spring onions, cumin, parsley and oil until well mixed. Adjust quantities to suit personal taste - will keep well in the fridge for up to a week but it never lasts that long. Best eaten in copious amounts with fresh-baked bread or clean, crisp celery. Spoonfuls can also be used as a tasty thickener for soups and stews.

Luis still eats meat when he knows of its origin and growth, and he still enjoys fish but equally these days values the variety that including vegetarian food in your diet gives you. Guests who visit invariably choose the vegetarian options and the many residents of our village who have tried vegetarian food at various village fiestas have always come back for seconds, which is great to see. Feedback on the recipes would be great.


  1. That houmous recipe looks the bee's knees!

    Most houmous recipes require the use of a blender, which I don't have - however, I do have a potato masher!

    I'll make it and report back!

    Cheers, Paul

  2. Hi PaulY

    I also use a potato masher. It is much better than a blender in my opinion. You can judge the consistency and mash till your heart's content....Looking forward to your feedback


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