I have a lot of vegetarian friends and relatives and I was vegetarian for a couple of years in college myself. However, I was never one of those vegetarians who forgot what meat tasted like, and I never ate tofu and believed it was meat.
I have a loved one who was often times guilty of this trick of the mind. Once we went to a vegan chinese restaurant in so cal, and we had vegan sweet and sour pork, vegan tin foil duck, and vegan mongolian beef. It was bad enough that it wasn't anything real chinese people would actually order, but made metaphorical by the fact that it wasn't even real meat. My friend kept saying, "Mmmm. Oh my god! Doesn't that taste just like duck? I can't believe that's not duck."
Well, he was the only one at the table who couldn't tell that the firm texture of tofu is nothing like the greasy, tender, succulant breast of mamma duck surrounded by crispy skin glazed in a slightly sweet, slightly salty sauce. "This is sooooo So Cal," I thought to myself. "Everything is fake and no one knows the difference."
Don't get me wrong. To me, tofu products are an interesting and valid culinary experience in their own right. They represent a certain culture and its sensibility; just as all foods everywhere do. In this case, vegan pork represents a culture obsessed with appearing to let go of what they percieve to be bad for them, without having to really let go of what they percieve to be bad for them. Pretty consistant considering this food phenomenon comes from the same part of the world that invented saddlebacking. (http://www.saddlebacki...)
But seriously, I don't have anything against texturized tofus flavored to remind us of meat any more than I have anything against Southern Californians sewn, stitched, bleached and packaged together to remind us of people. It's all good. It's just that I tend to like real things. I prefer my fiction to happen in books, and not on my plate.
Now that I am once again vegetarian I am finding that I still do not like fake stuff. No thank you, Vegan Cheese Burger. I'll pass, Veggie Hot Dog. So sorry, Tofurkey. What's the point of being vegetarian if you don't like vegetables? What's the point of aspiring to anything you don't really want to be?
The reason I bring this up is because I just finished having a wonderful vegetarian meal, with my partner, at Fellinis in Berkeley. They don't have a single fake meat item on the menu.
I began my meal with a Bloody Mary. I always get the Bloodys at Fellinis because they are one of the places that make "real" ones. (There we go with that word again.) Well, they don't use a pre-made mix, and they don't use canned tomato juice with red food coloring and corn syrup in it. The tomato juice is slighty pulpy and tastes like it has an expiration date. (Like it should! Real tomatoes are perishable.) They use real lemon juice and they use enough shredded horse radish that it gets caught in the straw, with little bits of ground pepper, creating a spicy explosion in your mouth when you suck hard and force it out.
Okay. I know how that just sounded.
I ordered their vegetarian Ceasar Salad. I know, I know... why order a Caesar Salad if you can't have anchovies? How So Cal! Agreed! It just ain't Caesar without the emulsified fish flesh, but I was on a salt kick tonight and I wanted all the succulant I could get.
Amazingly, this vegetarian dressing actually had a briny flavor to it. It actually tasted like they came and mashed up the anchovies right in front of me. "This is amazing," I told my date. "This actually tastes like Caesar Salad. I can't believe this isn't anchovies!"
I gave him a taste. He chewed slowly and then he looked at me like I was crazy. "That tastes like VEGETARIAN Caesar Salad. You're becoming just like 'you know who'," he said. He returned to his own salad as I was suddenly aware of the fact that my mind is catching up to my body, and joined together, they are conspiring against me.
For the last five weeks, whenever I saw sizzling carne asada, or dripping Mandarin duck, or Eggs Benedict with crispy Black Forest ham- my mind would say "no" while my body said "oh hell yeah!" Finally, my body and mind have melded as one and colluded to fix this little problem by tricking me. A trick of the mind!
Oh well. The least I can be is real about it. I have become "you know who". Almost! I still refuse to have vegan "fishless sticks" or "to-ficken mcnuggets". I shall proudly declare my love for the vegetable by eating it and my love for the duck by... feeding it at the park.
Whether you love chickens, or you love to eat chickens; Fellinis offers real food for real people and it is all delicious!
LIFE - FOOD & DRINK
Copyright © 2010 john robertson
Fellini: Real Food For Real People
No thank you, Vegan Cheese Burger. I'll pass, Veggie Hot Dog. So sorry, Tofurkey. What's the point of being vegetarian if you don't like vegetables?
Copyright © 2010 john robertson
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