What an awful party. At least from my perspective, in the tiny kitchen. I was covered in white crusts of hardened tempura batter. My arms were burned from where faux sausage, popping and melting, splattered unduly in the hot pan. Scorched fingertips desperately tried to turn the dry and crumbly little chickpea burgers that covered the flattop grill which, for some reason, wouldn’t survive the flip of my spatula.
Here is some food for thought: “To each his (or her) own. Live and let live. One’s pain is another’s pleasure. Let them eat cake. Man (etc) cannot live by bread alone.” But where’s the beef?
I am a rabid omnivore. Meat AND potatoes, along with fish, poultry, milk, butter and cheese accompanied by the occasional vegetable, fruit or nut. Oh, and plenty of wine. Maybe some beer and a whiskey or two. Once in awhile.
Most of us are omnivores – I don’t know anyone who is really a carnivore, no matter how much they boast. Maybe you won’t find any veggies in an Inuit’s igloo, but that’s not really by their choice.
But I do know a few vegetarians. I think. Vegetarianism can be confusing to the outsider. Heck, even vegetarians get confused -I know lots of ‘vegetarians’ who eat fish. Some even eat poultry. They seem to think that anything except beef and pork is in some way a ‘vegetable’. (Because veggies are ‘healthy’ and so is chicken and fish, while red meat will kill ya, donchano?)
Of course there are stricter vegetarians out there who claim to eat no meat products at all, though you’ll find that they still eat cheese, drink milk and even fry the occasional egg (white). So, they won’t eat animals but they will eat things animals excrete. Eww! I think that these mixed up folk are the ones most of us think of when we think of vegetarians. Even though they are not.
Because the only authentic vegetarian is the vegan. Absolutely nothing animal or made from an animal will pass through their lips (although honey is a kind of a grey area). No milk, eggs or butter. Personally, I think this is just great. Bully for them. The more vegans out there, the more good stuff left for the rest of us to gorge ourselves on. Live and let live, I say.
That was until last week, when I had the pleasure of catering a wedding in which the bride and groom were vegans while none of the guests were. Which resulted in a host of twisted food offerings that were intended to satisfy all palates as well as the sensibilities of the newlyweds.
Concessions were made and compromises agreed upon. Some of the fare was even not too bad. Not great but not awful. Melted brie with almonds in little butter-free pastry shells (why cheese yet no butter?). Butter-free-duxelle-stuffed filo purses. Grilled mini-chickpea burgers on cucumber slices and topped with dilled yogurt (more dairy). And of course fresh fruit, marinated olives and hummus are good any time.
But some of the food was not….food. “Crab cakes” made from blended zucchini and mushrooms, held together with tahini and doused with turmeric and then deep fried. Grilled ‘chicken” tofu strips and very spicy (at least that helped) “andouilles sausage” made from….I’m not quite sure but it was very rubbery. (This type of faux meat product kind of reminds me of cross dressers; they might fool some people and even themselves, but it’s just so…dishonest.)
The worst part was trying to deep fry vegetables in “tempura” using a batter made from rice-flour ,soda water and NO eggs. The only thing the batter stuck to was the fry basket and me.
So….I guess that I am no great fan of ‘vegan’ cuisine. Not that vegans themselves aren’t fine people – the newlyweds were, as far as I could tell, lovely and entertaining folk. And to be honest, everyone seemed to have a very good time (it helped that the M.O.B. insisted on some fresh shellfish to accompany the mock Paella). But….to each his own. Let’s not waste too much time, effort or food trying to appease both culinary camps. The combined result is much less desirable than each of our own distinctly, separate feasts might be.