When I started this blog I had one task on my list that I've already ticked off. I did wonder whether to keep it on or if I should free up the space for a different task. But as I'd actually put together my list about a year before I started to blog I didn't really want to change it. So it stayed.
I've been a vegetarian since I was eighteen. It was actually at my 18th birthday meal that I last ate meat (it was turkey, one of the few meats I actually liked). I tried to be a vegetarian before that, but it was always difficult when my mum was in charge of cooking and she wanted me to eat meat. I never really liked it and used to feed it to the dog under the table when she wasn't looking. When I was 14 the dog died. I tried to feed my meat to the cat instead, but she ate too slow and couldn't eat that much. So I became a part-time veggie, forcing meat down at home so that I would be allowed to leave the table, but rarely eating it outside of home.
About a week after my birthday meal I realised that I'd not eaten meat at all since that meal. If I could do it for a week, I could do it forever. I wasn't eating so much at home any more and not long afterwards I moved out. I didn't tell my mum, I just let her figure it out over time.
I always enjoyed cooking and my new life as an official veggie gave me lots of reasons to research and try out new recipes. Veggies weren't much catered for in restaurants then, and there certainly wasn't the choice of veggie products in the supermarkets that there are now, so it was much more challenging. Through my reading and research I came across the Vegetarian Society and found out that it's based in Altrincham (not very far away) and has a cookery school. Although the courses aren't particularly expensive, they were always well out of my affordability range. So it became one of those things that I kept saying I'd do one day but never getting round to. Last summer I'd been a vegetarian for 25 years and as I'm living back in Manchester and just down the road from the Vegetarian Society I thought that this would be a good year to finally do a course with them.
I chose the 'Food for Free' course because it also involved walking and learning about plants. The course took place on a Sunday and started off in the Vegetarian Society lounge where the dozen participants were served coffee before being introduced to Patrick Harding, wild food expert and our tutor for the day. After a talk and a slide show we were on to the practical side of the course where we headed out into the countryside looking for food. We didn't walk very far, though it took a couple of hours because we kept stopping to pick wild flowers and leaves and listen to Patrick talk about them. Once back at base we were served a big, late afternoon, buffet lunch using all the ingredients we'd picked. So that we wouldn't have to wait around too long for lunch we were actually served with food made from ingredients that had been collected earlier than our walk, but they were the same things.
Although we didn't get to cook the food ourselves, which is something that I would have liked to have done, we did get to eat plenty of it and were given the recipes to take home. If we'd cooked ourselves it would have been an evening meal by the time it was ready, so I can understand why we didn't get to participate in the actual cooking.
I really enjoyed the course and it was definitely worth waiting 25 years for. Now I'm tempted to do another one.