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Cooking with afda

Vegetarianism and Indian Cuisine

Posted to %afda by Arcum on 27th November 2000

pieceoftheuniverse wrote:

> > Who's a Vegetarian here?

> Wonko The Sane wrote:

> I am a vegetarian only in the barest hypothetical regions.
> You see, I happen to like meat. And while I'm not willing to actually
> go out and blow the head off of some poor living creature just to
> satisfy my thirst for blood -- after all, that's what video games are
> for -- I will happily devour the roasted carcass and only be barely
> disturbed at the infamous video that shows how cows are turned into
> hamburger.
> However, I do realize that a diet comprised of a lot of meat is not
> exactly the healthiest thing one can do to the average body, and so I
> go around to various restaurants and order up the occasional
> vegetarian meal.
> The problem, as most true vegetarians might tell you, is that very few
> restaurants have the proper idea of what a vegetarian actually is.
> Let's make this absolutely clear: true vegetarians do not drink milk.
> Or eat cheese. Even ice cream -- so much as a vanilla scoop -- is out
> of the question.

There's actually a special name for a vegetarian who eats diary products and eggs, ovo-lacto vegetarian. This actually is about the most common type of vegetarian. The difficulty is that people tend to forget the qualifier. Anything past that point is considered no vegetarian at all, but eggs and dairy are issues many vegetarians disagree on. Dairy, based on whether you feel it's exploitative, and eggs more on pro-life/pro-choice issues then anything else...

> Fish is still meat, and it doesn't matter that it
> comes from the sea or grazes in the field. If it has anything even
> resembling a semblance of a face, it is off limits. If it comes from
> any part of the body of anything with a face, whether the animal had
> to be killed for it or not, it is off limits.
> Restaurants do not know this. Regularly I will ask for a vegetarian
> meal and get something involving eggs, or worms au gratin (well, I
> only got that once), or a spectacular form of cheese that only comes
> in the colour blue. So I mark that restaurant off my list and move on
> to the next one.

No cheese is usually something you have to ask for. Anything with "vegan" by it would be safe, wo/ cheese or eggs, though. (And I rather enjoy that cheese, though I prefer the ones with dill in them, or that come from exotic countries, not that I get to have those much...)

> It's not for any particular reason -- I don't have many, if any,
> friends that are vegetarians, so it's not like I'm doing this so we
> all have a common place to eat. It's just that I was curious one day,
> and set about to taking note whenever I encounter a new place to
> dine. Some day I shall really have to set myself down and comprise a
> full and complete list of vegetarian meals available in the Bay Area
> ... but I'm not really sure anyone would be interested.

There's a list somewhere online with that info on it, not that I have the address with me. One piece of advice, though: vegetarianism is a lot easier with a taste for indian food. (ovo-lacto, at least. Raita, a sort of yoghurt dill dish, comes with most everything, to cool things down. India isn't exactly known for treating cows badly, though...) Most indian restaurants have a good section of their menu as vegetarian food, and if an indian restaurant has very little or no vegetarian food, it's probably not very good, anyways. India must be something like 90% vegetarian, and that tends to be reflected in the food.

One restaurant I recall went along the line where you order one item and a drink. The prices seem a little high (at first), but the food sounds interesting. Then someone comes out with a bunch of plates and deposits them all on your table. This isn't your meal, mind. This is the food that goes with it. Halfway though that, more food that comes with your meal arrives. Fineally, comes your meal. And the food was going from light to heavy, so you have enough rooms for it. And all the food was wonderful, too! And the drinks... real chai tea, or a mango lasse<sp?>. That's when the prices start seeming rather lower...

There are a couple guidelines, though. With indian food, you don't eat all of one dish at a time. It's rather impractical, because you won't notice how good the drinks are when you're pouring them down your throat quickly. An observant eye will note that there are always two different types of dishes on the table: ones that are slow-acting and very spicy, and ones that cool your mouth down. The trick is to switch over to a cooler dish till your mouth cools down from the hot dish that just started getting to you. If you don't know which is hot, taste a little of everything first, or ask someone more knowledgable about it...

In any case, Indian food can be very good, if eaten properly, and if that sort of thing is something you like. (Oh, this indian food place was in the bay area, too, "Sue's indian cuisine", or something like that, but that was 3-4 years ago, so I don't know if it's still around, under the same ownership, with the same cooks, or similar quality...)


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