3 days ago
Monday, 12 April 2010
What This Blog Is For
I’m vegetarian and I like food. Now I understand, to many, that statement simply doesn’t seem possible -I’ve intentionally restricted my diet, cutting out what most people would think of as the best bits - but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped caring about flavour and taste, that I don’t experience the same inner ping when eating a really good meal.
In actual fact I dislike the term ‘vegetarian’, it’s immediately limiting, defining, and not overly helpful. I was initially going to call this blog Mostly Plants in reference to Michael Pollan but decided to stick with the vegetarian label for simplicity.
Though I don’t eat meat, I do like to eat – and to eat out. London is great in this respect, the range of available cuisines means there’s plenty of places where I can eat well, but too often there’s a tendency for ‘vegetarian options’ on menus to be afterthoughts, uninspired and unreasonably marked up cooking that doesn’t illustrate the skills of the kitchen. To put it more succinctly, I’m fed up with goats’ cheese. And mushroom risotto. And generic veggie pasta dishes that look like they took all of five seconds to think up. I appreciate that I, as a non-meat eater, am in a minority and that there are plenty of, mainly ethnic, places that cater incredibly well for those who don’t eat meat, but a curry doesn’t always cut it. I have friends and family whose favourite words in the English language include ‘pork’ and ‘belly’ and sometimes I want to eat out with them.
Good vegetarian cooking isn’t difficult but it sometimes requires a different approach - to seasoning, to composition of a dish - to be truly successful. An imaginative kitchen should be able to come up with something that doesn’t make the diner feel like they’re drawn the short straw.
I’m not going to go all Jonathan Safran Foer on you. This isn’t about the ethics of eating animals. Suffice to say I have in the past eaten and enjoyed every bit of the pig possible, trotters, ears and all in between – I simply choose not to now. That doesn’t mean I no longer have a sense of taste or a good appetite; food is one of the principal pleasures in life and I like to think that I remain an adventurous eater; I like to be challenged and to try new things whenever the opportunity arises.
I’m also not out to shame and complain; I’m looking for inspiration. I want to seek out the best vegetarian eating experiences that the city has to offer, not just dedicated vegetarian restaurants by any means, rather the places that really go the distance, that care about all aspects of their operation. So if you have any suggestions on places I should visit, I’d welcome them.