Vegannoyed

TOFU TURKEY

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.

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  1. #1 by Steve on September 9, 2009 - 10:20 pm

    I’m with you, brother. To each his own, and more barbecue ribs for the rest of us.

  2. #2 by ambrosia on September 9, 2009 - 10:50 pm

    You wrote: “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).”

    Honey would be one grey area–as well as the pollen carried by bees, and the seeds carried by birds; not to mention the organic fertilizer probably used to feed the ‘shroons, or the other stuff spread on fields of vegetables (or exploiting the migrant workers who pick their green food). So, they may not eat their flesh, but they certainly don’t mind exploiting the labor of those poor little bees and migrant workers.

    On the other hand, do these vegans wear leather shoes?

  3. #3 by alex on September 10, 2009 - 12:21 pm

    Actually I’ve known vegans that wouldn’t wear leather.

  4. #4 by logioetc. on September 10, 2009 - 4:54 pm

    I realize that, Alex, I was simply trying to push Chris’s buttons, something that I take pride in doing a job well-done (get it, Chris the cook?)

    On the other hand, every utopian vision has it’s obvious inconsistencies.

    • #5 by Christian Beyer on September 10, 2009 - 5:46 pm

      You are a rare wit, Bruce. Ha,ha.

      I’ve met vegans who don’t wear leather either. And I think their sense of commitment is admirable. Of course, where do you draw the line? Do you not drive a car because of the flies who smash up on the headlights? Do you not walk on grass in order to avoid squashing worms and insects? But that kind of argument is an exercise in futility.

      By the same token, why give to charity if you can’t feed all the world’s starving or why bother to work towards ending injustice or poverty since it is likely to be always with us? In fact, isn’t that a primary argument that reactionary Christians aim at progressive Christians? That the Bible says this so let’s not waste our time on it – get out there and win some souls!

  5. #6 by alex on September 15, 2009 - 2:09 pm

    I think there should be compunction if an insect is needlessly killed.

    It’s also the case that the Saints feel compunction even when plants, such as flowers, are killed needlessly.

    Why don’t vegans feel this way?

    • #7 by Christian Beyer on September 15, 2009 - 2:39 pm

      I don’t know. Maybe they do. I have to admit, sometimes I feel pangs of regret when killing spiders and ants.

      We have a problem with ants in our house. The other day I saw a lone, very small ant running up the door frame in the bathroom and right after I killed it with my thumb I felt some sort of regret. Like, the ant was just living, why did I have to kill it? Wasn’t it innocent? And you could tell they way it tried to escape my thumb that it knew the gig was up.

      Then I reminded myself of what a nuisance they are and how they may even damage the structure of my home. Sort of they way we humans can be a nuisance on a much grander scale and damage God’s Earth. Why doesn’t God just reach down and smash us with his thumb?

      The other day while hiking I sort of wished he would. Bev and I were hiking along the Cascade Falls in Patapsco Park and the stream and falls were beautiful after all the recent rain. While wandering along the rocky bed we found a recently used pair of disposable diapers just sitting there beneath a rock ledge.
      Farther upstream we found another pair of used diapers.

      What kind of inconsiderate idiot would profess to love nature enough to go hiking along a rocky stream bed and leave their spawn’s excrement packaged for all eternity within plain view? Makes me wish that God might get pissed off enough to address this problem in an OT fashion. Maybe that’s what’s happening already, what with all the disastrous and devastating results of uncontrolled human expansion.

  6. #8 by logioetc. on September 15, 2009 - 6:55 pm

    Maybe God was reminding you that we all wear poopy diapers at one time or another.

    • #9 by Christian Beyer on September 15, 2009 - 7:39 pm

      Sure. That’s why I don’t hold a grudge against the ones who did the pooping. Just their parents, who easily fit into the category of “F**king American Pigs” ( a phrase from my past that comes to mind). Sorry, Bruce. That won’t fly. Absolutely no conceivable excuse. I spent many years backpacking with my kids when they were in diapers and we NEVER left things behind. Much less next to a running fresh water stream. Cholera anyone? Giardia?

  7. #10 by Alex on September 16, 2009 - 2:02 pm

    Disgusting!

    Yet, how often do we leave behind the filth of our sins to poison others

    • #11 by Christian Beyer on September 16, 2009 - 3:56 pm

      Ah, Alex…that ain’t gonna fly. Not by me, anyway. Besides, I don’t buy into that the ‘filthy’ or ‘dirty’ sin analogy. Smacks too much of puritanism which smacks too much of Augustine’s guilty aversion to sex (and hence the church’s). Ain’t nothing vile or filthier than human waste products.

      Without a doubt such a disregard for nature and others that the lazy parent (or guardian) displays when leaving around presents like the gift-wrapped baby shit is evidence of their being out of touch with God’s will (sin) but it is something that is manifestly different in a tangible way than let’s say…oh…a kids petting in the back seat of their parent’s car. Maybe not to God it’s not much different. But to me (and I think many others) it is. The funny thing is that many upright people would easily forgive the ‘litter’ or at least regard it as trivial and venial while roundly condemning the sexual promiscuity. No wonder the world’s in such a mess.

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