Don't panic. This isn't a picture of the aftermath of a massacre. It's just hummus and beetroot left over from a wake.
I'm an inveterate 'don't waste anything' kind of person so, when we left the funeral party and went on to the friends with whom we were staying that night, I took the rest of the hummus with me in order to give it to them. After all, the friend we were staying with was a vegetarian so she'd be happy to use it up. Right?
Wrong. It looked a lot too much like blood.
I was reminded of this yesterday when I started preparing food for a vegan who was coming to supper. I always find the whole vegetarian/vegan thing quite difficult. Not because they don't have the right to ethical or dietary concerns; they do ... but because there's so often the underlying current of their being firmly on the moral high ground whereas we meat eaters are vile and cruel beings.
There's a wonderful joke:
How do you know when someone's a vegan?
Don't worry, they'll tell you.
And it's so true. Last week I met a rather lovely little girl for the first time and this nine-year-old told me within five minutes that she was a vegetarian and that the sight of blood made her sick. Our two beagles were, at the time, chomping on bones in the garden and, for a moment, I wondered if I'd been unduly tactless but a) there was no blood remotely visible, b) it was our home and c) dogs are not vegetarians so I said just that last bit gently.
I do get it. Truly I do. There are many people who just think eating meat is repulsive and utterly wrong. And I, too, hate the idea of slaughterhouses filled with conveyor-belts of fear.
I just don't care in the same way as vegetarians and vegans do. Wherever we can, we eat meat that is home-killed, lovingly-reared and which, frequently, we've seen being born and growing up in the field behind our house. And I watch the lambs gambolling and playing and see how happy their short life is. Without meat-eaters they wouldn't have any life at all. I'll never know what the animals think but I know for sure that I'd rather have had my life cut short than never have lived any of it.
But that's not actually the point today. The point is that I inadvertently cut my finger while chopping vegetables and didn't notice it until I had accidentally bled into the veggie bolognese.
Which was to be eaten by a vegan.
What to do?
I should point out that this guest wasn't actually a friend -- I can talk to my veggie friends and be honest with them, thank God. She was a fellow minister who was in the area and who wanted to meet up. She might be fine with the body and blood of Christ ... but probably not with mine.
Now, of course, some of you who are carnivores might be repulsed at the idea of human blood in your food anyway. But I'm not. Blood is not disgusting in itself, it's life-force, and even if my blood wasn't given voluntarily, I'm fine with it after the event.
It would have been simple if I hadn't already stirred the pot before I noticed the drip. I could have jettisoned just that part of the bolognese. But even thinking I would have had to do that was annoying. It is my blood. This is not an ethical conundrum! It was going to be boiled so it wasn't a hygiene issue. And it wasn't a taste issue either; this was not a Tony Hancock armful.
I was once married to a Jewish man who didn't eat pork so we didn't eat pork. But he would cook me bacon and eggs once a year on my birthday because I did eat pork. Also, when we ate at friends' homes and they had forgotten and cooked un-Kosher food, he would eat it without a word as a matter of courtesy. I thought that was both generous and lovely.
I served up the bolognese and kept mum. Our guest had a 99.9% vegan meal including the bolognese and a vegan lemon tart with soy cream ... and although I didn't mind a bit making that meal for her, I did notice that she didn't think it worth bothering to say 'thank you for cooking out of your comfort zone in order to suit me.' That's because she is right in her belief and I am wrong.
And now I can't stop wondering what happens to vegetarians and vegans if there's a zombie apocalypse? I have three vegetarian friends who are entranced by The Walking Dead and not one of them appears to have noticed that theres no such thing as a vegetarian zombie. You never see any of them laying waste to a field of courgettes do you?
I just hope that, should I ever become a zombie, and I'm rampaging alongside a former vegan that I'll have the manners not to hiss, 'nice, isn't it?' as she chomps on a human leg.