Sunday, November 1, 2009

Stupid misconceptions about vegetarianism

Someone whose opinions I otherwise respect wrote the following on Twitter last week, in response to Natalie Portman's appearance on Top Chef: "I don't think you can be a 'foodie'/'adventurous eater' if you're a vegetarian."

This is what I call a stupid misconception about vegetarianism. A "foodie" is just someone who is into food. They like eating it, cooking it, reading about it, etc. There is no logical reason that a vegetarian can't be into food.

There is also no reason a vegetarian can't be an adventurous eater. Being a finicky eater and being vegetarian are two totally different things. Vegetarians don't forgo meat because they're picky; they're taking an ethical stance. Most "adventurous" meat eaters probably don't eat kitten meat and human flesh; they're capable of drawing the line somewhere.

Anyway I realized it's been a while since I did a "things you should eat" post, so here are a couple of recipes for you. They are easy, so be adventurous -- put down your hot dog and give them a try!

Coconut-Peanut Sauce
peanut butter
a lime
soy sauce
brown sugar
coconut milk (low-fat is fine)
Throw a knob of peeled fresh ginger and one or two cloves of garlic into a food processor and chop them up pretty fine. Add a big glob of peanut butter (like 1/3 of a cup or so), the juice of a lime, a splash of soy sauce, a squirt of sriracha, a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar (or to taste), and a dash of salt. Pulse that a bit to get it mixed together. Then thin it out with some coconut milk. You won't need the whole can, probably just 1/4 to 1/2 a cup. Get it all whirred together, taste and adjust as necessary so it's the consistency you want and has a good flavor balance: a little sweet, a little tangy, a little spicy.

I do one of two things with this: Eat it cold tossed with noodles (preferably fresh), tofu cubes, shredded carrot, thinly sliced red pepper and cucumber, and cilantro, or pour it over stir-friend tofu and veggies until it's warmed through and serve over rice. It's like dessert for dinner!

Migas, Adam Gabbert Style

Migas is an egg dish that's very popular in Austin. I don't know if it originated there or what. El Paso is the Mexican food capital of the world but I never had migas until I moved to east Texas. This is good for brunch or a quick dinner. Serve with beans and flour tortillas if you're not trying to eat less gluten.
Peanut oil (for frying)
4 (or so) corn tortillas
1 smallish white or yellow onion, chopped
1 medium-sized tomato, seeded if it's very juicy, chopped
1 fresh jalapeño, chopped
Butter (for sauteeing)
4 eggs, beaten with some salt and a splash of milk or half & half
1/3 cup or so shredded cheddar or jack cheese
If you're not fry-phobic, heat a couple of inches of peanut oil in a pan. Slice the corn tortillas into 1/2-inch strips. Fry them in batches until golden and crispy (a few minutes), then drain on paper towels and salt while they're hot. If this sounds terrible, you can use crushed up packaged tortilla chips. Just remember, fear is the mindkiller.

Melt a pat of butter in a large nonstick frying pan (or skillet, if you prefer) and sautee the onion over medium heat until it's softened but not brown. Add the tomato and jalapeño and a little salt and sautee a little longer, until it's starting to look kind of saucy and yummy. Lower the heat a little and add a bit more butter if the pan looks dry (or hit it with some cooking spray) and then pour in the eggs.

At this point you're basically just scrambling the eggs: drag a spatula back and forth across the pan, fold them around, etc. You don't want them to cook too quickly. Only unadventurous scumbags like overcooked eggs. When they're 75-80% done, throw in the fried tortilla strips and cheese and keep stirring until it's all incorporated and the cheese is melted and the eggs are done but still a bit soft. Alternatively, you can sprinkle the cheese on at the end for a melty top layer. Serve with salsa if you want, but the salsa's kind of already in there.

While you eat this, think fond thoughts of Texas, but if you've never been there, don't assume Austin's the only place in the state worth seeing. I'm so sick of Northerners hearing I'm from Texas and saying, "Oh yeah? I hear Austin's cool." There's more to Texas than 6th street, you uninformed dillholes.


  1. I hate the word foodie. Did I tell you that already? People might as well say this: "I am interested in eating and listening to marketing gimicks. Also, I am a philistine."

  2. Yeah "foodie" is kind of dumb-sounding. It's just the flipside of "gourmand." Less pretentious-sounding, but to a fault.

  3. Yeah, both of the words are obnoxious. But are there any better ones? Gourmet? epicure? connoisseur? epicurean? gastronome? They all have a certain snottiness.

  4. My Twitter profile actually says "foodist" (following the form of "rationalist") but somehow it almost sounds like someone is categorically opposed to food.

  5. Ha ha. I think that means something else. Applies either way though.

  6. Gastronome sounds like gastro-gnome, which would be a great monster movie antagonist.

    Foodist sounds like a pro-food activist, but one who only concentrates on the major categories of food. So, pro-cereals or pro-fruit, but not necessarily pro-quail eggs.

    I say just retake gourmand. No sense worrying about how pretentious it sounds if your hobby is literally an above-average interest in food. It's like worrying that philatelic sounds too nerdy. You gotta just own it. If you need to spice it up in certain situations, you can always add "fucking."

    "So, what are you into?"

    "I'm a fucking gourmand."

  7. "Fucking gourmand" is PERFECT. I worry that to be a straight-up gourmand, you really do have to eat meat. Like, several courses of it in a row. And have gout.

    The problem with "philatelic" is not that it sounds nerdy, but that it sounds like a derivative of fellatio.

  8. Good point. Straight-up gourmand would have to be all-inclusive (as in, includes all the diseases).

  9. Here's my Northeast-liberal-yet-meat-eating question about that article: Are dinner parties really so difficult for vegetarians? I mean, I can't imagine, in this day and age, that anybody besides 90 year-old Aunt Bertha wouldn't understand, "Thank you. This looks wonderful, but I'm a vegetarian." Maybe I just hang out with too many open-minded people.

    (Oh, and obligatory disgust with rape-as-analogy-didn't-Harvard-teach-Portman-anything-about-rhetoric-but-she's-a-Polanski-apologist-anyway, blah, blah, blah.)

  10. You mean the article in the HuffPo? My feelings on the journalistic integrity of the HuffPo are well-known, but whether or not rape was the best choice for that analogy, I think the point about moral relativism is semi-interesting. For the most part I don't befriend people who do stuff I consider unethical, but I don't filter for omnivores at all. Nobody does. I guess because it's still impossible. It would seem insane.

  11. Social dinners can be a little difficult for vegans just for lack of options, definitely easier when I was vegetarian, but certainly not impossible. Once you get the hang of how to manage it's not a big deal.

    Family tends to get ruffled more than friends/peers, holiday traditions and all that. Sometimes people feel uncomfortable, for various reasons (usually their own). Like Elisa said, most people I'd care to eat with either aren't bothered or are sort of curious in a friendly way.

    Also it depends on where you live. It's pretty dang easy to be vegetarian or vegan in Boston or NYC areas and people are used to it. In my hometown, I'd have a hard time.

    I'm sure it'd be different if I had to eat with people in a professional capacity. Someone like Portman gets scrutinized for anything she does in public and probably has dinners and parties and shit that are obligatory, so it's more annoying to her. Or maybe she's just easily annoyed. ;)

  12. oh, but i actually meant to agree on the "can't be a foodie if you're a vegetarian" thing, before i got sidetracked by all these comments. :) most veg*ns i know are sort of obsessed with good/exciting/unusual food.

  13. Ditto, Shanna, the vegans I know are obsessed with food.