It is my belief that I have been a relapsed vegetarian for most of my life. Although the thought of eating a 16 oz steak turns me off (yes, even sterling silver striploin), I love teriyaki beef. Chicken wings/thighs/drumsticks are a dinner staple. Bacon is indispensable for English dinners and Canadian breakfasts. Bison and ostrich are my new ‘it’ meats, thanks to their lean-without-being-stringy textures. I won’t say no to lamb, with or without mint jelly. And then there’s my ongoing fascination with sushi, sashimi, shrimp, and scallop. Clearly, taking meats off my diet is impossible.
Growing up without the benefit of the internet as a tool seriously limited my ability to research meat-free alternatives, and lifestyle magazines were an unknown quantity in our household. So plenty of experimentation took place on my palate. My first storebought tofu patty had the taste and consistency of cardboard–putting my love for the soybean to the test. Thankfully, tofu patty quality has since improved; I have ordered “tofu chicken” sandwiches that have delighted even the most discerning of vegetarians.
Tomatoes are the top of the crops, even if they are really fruits. Aubergine is perfect in moussaka, deep-fried and drizzled with soy, or in an Indonesian peanut satay curry if you’re in a hurry. Corn on the cob, dripping with butter will have me asking for another. Spinach has a high choke factor, but in spanakopita and spinach bread, is a great actor. I’m a recent carrot juice convert. It is great — but don’t drink it straight, lest your friends think you went for a cleanse. Yam fries are divine, and deviled potato salad trumps regular potato salad any time.
It’s pretty spooky to think that I am eating lady’s fingers, but okra is a rare treat to have for dinner. My interest in garbanzo beans was revitalized, thanks to a Vancouver vegetarian restaurant on Broadway called Gourmet and Greens (sadly, this cozy little place–which had a yoga class as its next door neighbour–closed operations last summer after being in business for 5 years). Beets are shocking red and sweet. I do hale the kale (as do green cabbageworms). As a soup addition, watercress is a welcome dereliction, and pea shoots and leaves, stir fried with garlic and olive oil, are the bees’ knees.
Now, given the laudatory (and somewhat badly poetic) manner in which I’ve extolled the vegetables above, you might think I am a vegetable devotee. However, I do have a list of verboten vegetables. But at least, it’s a short one. Brussel sprouts are the liver of the vegetable kingdom; even my growing up didn’t make them taste like my favourite noms. Sorry, cauliflower and broccoli, I don’t believe in eating trees. With a name like bitter melon, you sound less like a food and more like a felon. Artichokes (yes, you heard me) are not my kind of folks. Dear cabbage: you sound too much like the the father of the computer, Sir Charles Babbage, to be edible. Swiss chard, why do you have to sound like something that is burnt and hard?
and in conclusion
My extensive vetting of these vegetables proves that I am more vegetarian than a meatatarian. Now please excuse me while I make a late night run to the grocery — I’m writing myself hungry.
- Face-off! “Tofurky” VS “Healthy Ones” Deli Slices (nutritionrendition.wordpress.com)
- Vegetarian Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie (healthfactskhartnett.com)
- Crazy for Quinoa: 35 Recipes for the Healthy Whole Grain (beatcancer2010.wordpress.com)
- 7 Proteins for Meatless Mondays (And How to Use Them) (greatist.com)