Apparently I have opinions on food; who knew?
No, really though, I forgot something I was going to post here yesterday and really wanted to. It’s the blog post of Dirt Candy, a New York-based vegetarian restaurant. But calling it a vegetarian restaurant is a bit like calling the Taj Mahal a pretty-looking tomb. The owner and operator and Main Chef Person does chemical magic with vegetables like you wouldn’t believe. At least, if her pictures and descriptions are anything to go by. Reading through the food and menu posts is my guilty pleasure. My aim is to make it to this restaurant the next time I visit New York, but that requires me to a) make reservations in advance, and b) go with someone similarly enthused.
I’m not vegetarian for religious reasons (in fact, I’m not religious at all, but that’s for another blog post). At first I stuck to my vegetarianism because it was a force of habit, really. But then I assembled a whole army of reasons for why I should continue with this:
- My family would be pretty darn disappointed if I suddenly started wolfing down McNuggets. Frankly, so would my large intestine.
- Speaking of which, I’d be a way healthier person if I were vegetarian, because we all know what my self-control around food is like. I have the spare tire right here, exhibit A, thanks very much.
- Technically speaking it really is ecologically more sensible. If you think of the water and arable land that go into providing supplies for the cows which we then eat a fraction of, for instance, you’d see that much of the food chain is energy-inefficient. At least in the ways that the American food industry currently operates. And then there’s the issue of overfishing and animal farm cruelty. I feel quite a bit better knowing I’m not participating in any of that, no matter how obliquely.
- I really do like vegetables. There are a few odd ones that I’m not a fan of (e.g. zucchini, but I’ve had the bread and I consider it acceptable) but for the most part I like vegetables. Not raw. I don’t eat salads. Gasp! you say. But you’re vegetarian! How can you not?! Which leads me to…
- Listen. I’m Indian. You know what we do to vegetables? Well, mainly we turn them into very tasty mush that’s decked out with a Whole Foods’ worth of spices, but damn, you can taste them. I spent several years being maligned, maligned I tell you, treated like a culinary second class citizen by the college cafeteria. Their idea of vegetarian fare was boiled vegetables, with options like almost-real cheese and hot sauce. I THINK NOT. <deep breaths> Anyway the point of all that was to say that vegetarianism for me, now, is a challenge. I’m going to eat right, eat well, and eat tasty things.
What about the protein? you say. Well, I have several options. For one, I’m a fan of omelets and all things egg-like. My current favorite is poached eggs, which are made more mysterious and interesting by virtue of the fact that I don’t know how to make them myself. Then there’s beans and lentils, all of which are easy to make into something delicious.
But my favorite protein thing, for sheer entertainment value, is fake meat.
Faux bacon! Pretend chicken strips! Non-meat sausage! I’ve tried all of these, by the way, and though some of them are quite tasty, they are all uniformly hilarious.
I assume they’re just a way to get more protein into the diets of vegetarians. But I’m also thinking of the lately carnivorous, who’ve decided for some reason to jump on the wagon and now have to go B-total, Terry Pratchett-style. How the hell did anyone think these frozen goods were going to compensate?
There’s only one bad thing about being vegetarian, for someone like me.
The problem is the cooking shows. I have a weakness for British food celebrities (don’t ask, I don’t know why either). But god, they’re so excited about their dead cows and mauled pigs, I can’t help but wonder if the hype is worth it.
It’s entirely possible that one day I’ll just chuck the vegetarianism and do roast chicken every Sunday for the remainder of my life. It’s also equally possible that my self-righteousness and aw-shucks-I’ve-gone-this-far-ness will reassert itself in the face of meat and keep me locked into a life of plant-worship.