Living in the Bay Area so many years, you come to expect everyone you meet has got some kind of dietary “preferences” for reasons of health, ethics, religion, or neurosis. At last year’s Passover Seder, for example, one of the guests wanted to ensure the matzah balls were made with local, organic, free-range eggs. This kind of thing.
So I was at the airport, waiting at the gate for my flight. Most people were screen-watching, but I was people-watching. In particular, my attention was drawn to a group of Asian men who appeared to be Buddhist monks. Well, they were styled as such with the red robes and the shaved heads.
The junior disciples opened some brown paper bags and offered containers of food to the senior monk. Using chopsticks, the chief brought a plain green cooked vegetable to his face — maybe spinach or seaweed or kale — sniffed, but did not eat. He seemed displeased and whispered a few words. The novice monks took all the containers and threw them in the trash.
Though I knew very little about Buddhism, I assumed the food could not be eaten because it contained animal ingredients or was impure in some other way. Anyway, some of the apostles left, presumably in search of more appropriate fare.
They were not going to find any vegan cuisine at this particular terminal, and it occurred to me that this might be the last chance the elderly man would have to eat for a very long time. The airplane’s galley wasn’t likely to have any acceptable options, and it could be hours and hours before they reached their destination of Laos or Mongolia or wherever they were headed.
Soon, the young men came back bearing several personal-sized pizzas. The leader opened a box, lifted a slice — pepperoni — and took a bite. In a few moments, everyone was eating and laughing. Clearly, they had not been the least bit concerned about the rectitude (or cholesterol) of their meal. Really, the whole episode reminded me of a commercial for the Pizza Hut.
I was laughing, too. Partly at the irony, but mostly at myself. We all know what happens when you make assumptions.
© 2016 Jaclyn Schrier. All rights reserved.