In praise of righteous gentiles: awesome vegan meals from slavering carnivores

I have been totally impressed this past week to have two of my best friends put together fabulous (almost entirely) vegan meals on our trip to NYC and Baltimore, out of the kindness of their meat-lovin’ hearts and perhaps with a wistful look back at all the many extremely non-vegan moments we have shared together.

Bi Bim Bap: great name, great lookin' meal

In New York, Bart and Irene and Master C. welcomed us with a miso soup – the dashi, or stock, was made by Sensei Bart himself (and yes, even yellow belt vegans are aware that fermented fish is perhaps not compliant) – and then a splendid bi bim bap that Irene put together, with beef on the side for those wishing to partake. Irene also made a traditional Korean winter solstice soup, called Donji patjuk, which is a red bean (adzuki bean) soup with little sticky-rice flour dumplings. We all felt that we had done our part to ensure a good harvest for the spring as the days start to grow longer.

Whut the hiz-ell is up with th' tempeh?

Then in Baltimore, Pat took time off from holding back the city’s ocean of craziness and substance abuse to put together an astounding vegan brunch. He made the strong move to actually get a book called Vegan Brunch, and actually get heretofore unknown ingredients and make his own darned “vegenaise.” We also got to see Audrey when she took a break from tending to crazy people’s bronchial issues, and the lovely Miss H. and Master A. Pat’s dad absented himself during this abominable procedure, knowing that Pat was simultaneously brining chicken for buttermilk fried chix later that same day (!). The menu included:

All the vegan hippies in Baltimore are going nuts for these bad boys

Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes: remarkably like crab cakes in appearance and consistency. The remoulade, with the vegenaise, hot sauce, red wine vinegar, and whole-grain mustard, really makes this dish blow up. And I can attest that they wholly fulfilled the post-meal role of real crab cakes in terms of heartburn.

Banana flapjacks with coconut and chocolate chips: I guess one aspect of vegan baking that takes some getting used to is that the moisture of the ingredients can lead to things not baking through and/or becoming crisp in the way regular cakes/crepes do. But as you can see from young Master A. here, these pancakes totally did the trick.

Yeah, this one's mine, pardner

Breakfast burritos: he soaked the beans himself. A testament to true friendship. This was the first time that soy cheese has gone over well with the kids. E. thought the yellow, somewhat inorganic-looking “chreese” strands were carrots.

Grilled potatoes: just damned good. No special white-dread affectation required.

Mochi! (for some reason this seems to require constant exuberance): some kind of glutinous rice, which as Miss A. said, “tastes sort of bagely” and squishy. Makes you feel like there’s a lunar festival going on in your mouth, in a good way.

I raised with Pat, who after all is a doctor at a world-renowned hospital, my idea that maybe the US medical establishment is setting the bar too low in terms of expectations for people’s diet. I.e., why can’t every primary care doc and specialist man up and tell people they can only eat Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes if they want to live long, healthy lives? Pat laughed and said that the kind of crazy he deals with makes animal protein pretty low down on the action list. But 2012 is a new year, right?

I just whip this kind of thing up while talking people down from the ledge on speaker phone. "Sir...the chreese won't hurt you anymore."

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