L is for Lentils

What do Lentils have to do with us moving to Switzerland. Let me tell you a little story.

Shortly after we moved here I paid $60 Canada dollars for 4 small steaks. Johnathan almost put me on the next plane to Canada for that. My frugal German butcher grandfather was probably rolling over in his grave for what his idiot Granddaughter had just done.

We quickly realized that whilst we assume there are more cows than people in this country these cows are not for eating. They're for cheese. Cue despondent Canadians. Johnathan grew up on a farm where they killed their own chickens (they were doing free range organic before it was trendy), raised pigs and had a plethora of other farm fresh meat available to him. I grew up with a grandfather that was a butcher starting at the age of 14. I only got store bought, Oscar Meyer wieners at someones birthday party.  By the 7th grade I knew more about meat than your average 13 year old. Admittedly I wasn't your average 13 year but an example might help, I got into an argument with my Home Ec teacher about patting your beef dry so it browns faster for stew. According to her unless its in the instructions you don't do it. BA!?!?! Hello Julia Child dries her meat why can't a 7th grader in Home Ec dry her meat? Oh because the teacher says so. Harumph. John is convinced I became a really good cook and a really crap sewer out of spite for this woman.

He may or may not be right.

Protein can be expensive here. Like crazy expensive. Pork tenderloin? 30 francs ($40 Canadian.) 1 small Canadian Angus Beef steak? 25 francs ($35 Canadian.) 1 Turkey for Thanksgiving? The cheapest one we found was 50 francs. That's $60 Canadian dollars my friends...for a turkey!!! Half a pound of stewing beef can easily set you back 20 francs. 1 decently sized tuna steak for one person is 9 francs.

So what does a Canadian do?

First to blame your husband. He's the reason you live in the land of expensive protein therefore it's his fault.

Next you experiment. Game tends to be cheap here so we've had rabbit and considered ostrich. Yes we ate a cute little bunny. I made a cute little cacciatore. I've also prepared horse on occasion because again it's cheap. Oh stop freaking out. Horse has double the iron of beef and way more omega fatty acids and B12. Many doctors here recommend women add more horse meat to their diet because of the crazy iron content.

Then you learn to love protein powder...but you go to Germany to get it because it's cheaper there.

Finally you admit to yourself that you need to embrace a mostly Vegetarian diet. Yes, mostly. Not completely. Just mostly. Because trust me when red meat goes on sale I'm stocking up.

I will admit when I first learned about vegetarian cooking I was one of those people who assumed it was all salads and tofu. WOW was I wrong. I'm very lucky that John isn't one of those men who gets all pouty if a meal doesn't have meat (we have a friend whose husband will not eat if it doesn't have some sort of meat on the plate.) So buoyed by the pocketbook friendly nature of a vegetarian diet (my word is expensive to eat crappy food here) and the fact that John will eat whats put in front of him I've really learned to love vegetarian food. Most of all I've learned to love lentils!

First of all they're cheap! My word are they cheap. For about 3 francs I can get a bag of lentils that has more than 10 servings. Kind of a big deal. Also unlike other dried legumes they don't need to be soaked. WOOHOO. Just rinse and throw them into what ever you're making. Excellent. Next the iron content is great. Making sure we get enough iron in our diet has been a struggle but one half cup of cooked lentils contains 3.3 mg of iron. That's actually more than 3 ounces of beef which only has 2.6 mg of iron.

My favourite thing about them though is that you can basically do anything with them. I made ham and green lentil soup yesterday. Looked like and smelled like split pea soup except it was green lentils.  We currently have leftover red lentil pasta sauce in the fridge which we both prefer to its meaty cousin. And I'm fairly sure I could make curried lentils 4 days out of 5 and John would be super happy.


  1. We suffered similar cuisine-cost-culture shock. Will you post these lentil recipes? They sound good. Jo


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