“No, grandmother, you do not have to brag me meat, because I’m a vegetarian.” I sometimes imagine that I would say that in my family. My grandmother would sell me a blow. Then I would still eat the meat with a bowed head.
Being a vegetarian does not actually exist in Syria. There are people who do not eat meat, but they do that for example because they are not allowed by the doctor or their diet. Syrian people often cook vegetarian, but they do so because there is no meat in the recipe. Not because they think about the life of the animals.
In the Netherlands I speak a lot of people who do not eat meat. I even met someone who did not want my home baked cake, because milk was used. ,,Milk? What is sad about that?”, I asked. That was pathetic, because that cow did not necessarily want to give milk itself. I assured her that I personally knew this cow and that she had given me the milk with full conviction and pleasure. She did not believe that and did not want a cake.
I find it sad, because now she is mainly dependent on fruit and vegetables in the Netherlands. And sorry, but those are just not that good here. There is little taste. I think that is not surprising, when you consider that food sometimes even comes from a laboratory. For example, lemons and grapes without kernels exist in the Netherlands. Conceived in a computer, tested in a laboratory. If I hear so, I can imagine that the taste has lost somewhere along the way.
As is often the case when you think back to something; it gets better and better in your head. The oranges from Syria are in my head from month to month sweeter. Just like the tomatoes getting juicier and the cucumbers more crispy. A little while longer and I even long for okra, a vegetable that is quite unknown in the Netherlands, which -in the past- I used to refuse to eat.