Evan Kessler Dot Com

The Home of the Brave

Vegetarian Cuisine

Posted by evankessler on October 7, 2004

Tonight, I met up with old college buddies Rob Goodman, Reva Goldberg, and Samantha Hahn for dinner at Zen Palate on Union Square East. For those not familiar with Zen Palate it’s a Vegetarian Asian restaurant.

Now, I myself don’t consider myself highly adaptable to the Vegetarian lifestyle to begin with, seeing as I rely on various meats for a large portion of my diet. That being said, I’ve eaten at Zen Palate before but because of my reluctance to eat fake meat I tend to stick to the things that are identifiable as vegetables. So last time I was there I had vegetable dumplings which usually just contain mushrooms or spinach or carrots and the like.
This time I decided I would be a little more adventurous but not really. I ordered a dish called Rose Petals which was described as “Home Made Soy Pasta in a Sweet Rice Ginger Sauce with Garden Vegetables”. I thought to myself, “this sounds like the least creepy fake meat thing I can find. The description didn’t wreak of the this will taste exactly like chicken deception that vegetarians like to bestow upon their less than worthy bovine and fowl substitutes.” I just figured, okay, I can do pasta and vegetables. However when the meal came, the soy pasta thing was shaped to sort of look like a sliced grilled chicken breast. At least, that’s what it looked like to me. When I bit into it, I half expected it to taste like chicken and half expected it to taste like pasta. As my taste buds gripped the mysterious food particles, they had a nearly impossible time discerning what they were presently encountering, sending a “what the fuck is this supposed to be?” message to my brain.

Herein lies my problem with the vegetarian culture; If I’m eating something and it’s bouncing around my taste buds, I kind of like to know what is in my mouth. I like knowing if it’s a dead chicken or a dead cow. I find it comforting that if you were to ask me to point to a picture of what is currently satisfying my hunger, I’d be able to identify the large, fat, brown and white mammal grazing in a pasture and getting tipped over by hicks. On the other hand, tell me I’m eating “Steamed Cabbage Leaves with Soy Gluten, Low-Cal Conjex” I’d soon picture one of those molecular chains (C=0-0=C) and wonder how many covalent bonds it contains. I don’t want that in my mouth much less my body. I think the people I was with liked the food and I didn’t hate it completely. I just felt like I had consumed something I shouldn’t have that was dissolving it’s chemical makeup and was destined to form unnatural chemical bonds with the molecular make-up of my stomach causing a reverse peristaltic reaction. This has not happened as of yet and I am thankful, but I am going to stop with the vegetarian cuisine for awhile, unless I can clearly identify the sum of its parts.


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