It finally happened. My blood sugar nudged me across the line to a diagnosis: diabetes type 2.
I knew it was coming, even as I continued to eat too much and move too little. My doctor said I could turn it around, most likely, by losing weight, and his primary concern was that I cut back on food volume. He said he wasn’t going to push exercise, because at this stage, it’s a secondary concern, and he doesn’t want me to have to think about too much. If I walk The Beauteous Sheila almost every day, he’s all for it, as long as I don’t stress about it.
My first thought was to look up vegetarian and vegan recipes–lots of veggie and grainy goodness. We’re demi-vegetarians; meat is not crucial to our menu. I found a lot of tasty looking vegan recipes and was surprised; I thought vegan food would be too–austere. As I browsed, I thought Hm. This wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe I could switch to this.
Then it came to me what I would be giving up.
It’s not the meat.
It’s the cheese. Specifically, feta cheese.
We buy our feta cheese at a little store called Mandros Imported Foods in Lancaster. It’s a wonderful, dimly lit store with crowded aisles, shelves packed with a boggling variety of chutneys, jams, pastas, crackers, herbs and spices. There are oils and vinegars, and the air smells so good in there that it almost makes your nose hurt. If you wend your way to the back of the store, you will encounter a case with all kinds of cheeses in it. This is where we–usually my husband–request 3 pounds of domestic feta and receive a tangy salty white block to take home. One of the Mandros brothers calls my husband “Mr. Three Pounds.” My son went into the store to order some and became “Mr. Three Pounds Jr.” (Well, that’s the spouse’s story.)
What do we do with it? Feta cheese sandwiches with a swipe of mayonnaise and a slice or two of onion. Crumbled into a big green salad. Melted onto a fried egg or in an omelet. Stirred into a lemony lentil salad. Tossed with diced potatoes and lemon juice and baked. Nibbled on crackers, sometimes heated so it is soft and creamy. We haven’t even begun to explore all possibilities. Googling “feta cheese recipes” brings up lots of dishes, not all of them spanakopita or Greek salads and many of them appealing.
I will eat a lot more in the plant realm, including grains and nuts and seeds. I don’t really foresee becoming vegan or a 100% committed vegetarian. If it came down to it, I know that I can give up bacon. I can give up sausage gravy on biscuits. I can give up chicken salad, pork chops, shrimp or pork egg rolls. If I had to, I could give it up.
But keep your darn hands off my feta cheese.
After all–we all have our feta cheese, and this is mine.