Our relationship with food is an interesting delve into passion, survival, hedonism, disease, and social interaction, among other things. I love food, and although I am a picky eater and trying desperately not to be, cooking is my chill zone. I love to get into that rhythm, where the timing is like a precise and lovely mambo, with the aroma of spices and sauces wafting through the space, mixing with the music playing in the background. Ahhhh, the kitchen, that hearth of home that everyone gravitates to, especially once they are drunken.
The biggest joy I derive from cooking is seeing the ones I love enjoy what I’ve made. Although I probably rebelled against this seemingly gender based role, one reeking of June Cleaver goodness, (not goddess), I eventually just allowed myself to do what I found joy in. Cooking fits that bill, and I have since been re-inspired with the hopes of helping our household to be more vegetarian.
While I have been around vegetarians and vegans since my late teens, I grew up on the Irish cooking of a very meat and potatoes based diet. (Still, it was GREAT food). This has made it a challenge for me to find my way towards doing things creatively with vegetables, so that even I would enjoy it, a kid who hated all vegetables except corn. (Which is a grain, anyway…) All that said, I will likely not want to pass up the amazing taste of Argentinian Beef and a fresh Chimichurri sauce every once in a while.
While I work my way away from meat and have always loved falafel, tempeh, and pasta, introducing TVP and tofu (I can’t get past the texture) is tricky for me. Still, I love the way I’m feeling after only a few days of eating some hearty vegetarian fare. Not to mention the enormous environmental benefits to be had from consuming less meat.
Plus, I have been infatuated with the idea of self-reliance forever. And if I am fulfilled with a vegetarian diet, I don’t ever have to confront the killing of 4 legged animals, an act I am incredibly freaked out by. Unless, of course, it’s all wrapped in a nice plastic cellophane, removing me completely from the enormous miracle that it took to get that cow, chicken, turkey, and pig so easily in front of me. Geez, how I long to respect and appreciate the food that I consume much more than I presently do.
Over the past couple of days, I’ve made a vegetarian moussaka and peanut noodles with mixed veggies in a lemon-infused chile sauce. I’m going to make some baba ghanouj, curried celery soup, griddled pineapple and mango with vanilla yogurt, and a sweet potato roulade. All of these wonderful dishes come from a cookbook I picked up a couple of months ago, apparently when the seed was planted, somewhat unbeknownst to me. It’s called, plainly, Vegetarian, and is put together by Nicola Graimes. I can’t find it anywhere online, probably because it’s one of those mass produced books commissioned by Borders Books or something. The 126 page intro, with fabulous pictures, food anecdotes, nutritional factoids and preparation info is broken down into categories and makes for a tantalizing foray into the world of gourmet vegetarian cooking.