Tag Archives: vegetarian

What’s on your plate Special Edition: Salads.

Life in terms of food in the Philippines wasn’t so bad, and it could certainly have been worse.  Where we lived, we had good access to a decent array of fruits and vegetables, and we eventually found a couple of places we could buy tofu (as it’s a common foodstuff, but not found in the supermarket) and learned how to make mungo beans.  But there were a few things we had to go without.  For C, I think the hardest of these was (what we consider good) bread, but he finally bit the bullet and started baking his own, which was awesome for both of us.

Some foods we couldn’t compensate for, though most of these were no big loss:  apples, oranges and grapes were on offer but out of the question.  The apples were tasteless and powdery, the oranges were juiceless and neither sour nor sweet, and I never got around to sampling the grapes…but I wasn’t bothered – we had mangos and rambutan and lanzones and jackfruit and like 4 kinds of bananas (though I’ve heard there were once hundreds of varieties in Mindanao, but due to monoculture there are only a few now – and there are far worse consequences, but I digress).

Something we absolutely never bought, though – except for that first time out of sheer naivety – was lettuce.  The lettuce was awful.  It was hard and bitter and dry…the climate just isn’t conducive to growing the stuff.  So upon arriving in France, I was ecstatic about salad.  The French love salad.  Most families serve it with every dinner and sometimes lunch, too.  The only problem is that for them, salade is the word they use for “lettuce”.  Which is to say that they eat lettuce with their meals, with dressing of course.  But rarely anything else, unless the salad is the main dish, which is typically only for eating out.  Not having lettuce in the Philippines had forced us to learn to love a whole bunch of other raw vegetables, and lettuce and sauce just didn’t cut it for me anymore.

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Get the body you want in only 2 1/2 years!

When Jamie Oliver famously (and somewhat successfully) tried to convince Britain via his preferred medium – the television documentary – that they needed to improve the quality and nutrition of school lunches, the reaction from some bordered on hostile.  People called him out for trying to tell them how to live their lives, how-very-dare-he and all that.  The media showed images of mothers passing fried chicken and chips through school fences so their little preciouses wouldn’t have to eat what someone else found good for them (though to be fair, the media probably jumped on those photo ops, and it was probably far less widespread than they’d have had us believe).

Food is a damned sensitive subject.  It is for me.  I’m betting it is for you.  It defines us culturally, socio-economically, and ethically.  It forms the foundation of almost every ritual we share amongst friends and family (particularly if we add drink into this equation).  We cannot live without it, and yet it kills far too many of us every year.  Corporations have corrupted it beyond recognition, and activists the world over have dedicated their lives to rescuing it (and consequently us) and bringing it back to the nourishing, life-giving thing it was meant to be.  Food.

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Ratatouille! Or, Summer’s Almost Gone…

Disclaimer:  I’m not the photographer in this family.  So most of the pictures in the following post are pretty awful.  However, I think that adds something special to the whole experience, don’t you?!

I’m a weird vegan (no – not redundant, thank you very much).  Until recently, I had a pretty hard time with quite a lot of vegetables.  Over the years, though, my tastes have changed, and I’ve learned to love lots of the ones I heretofore abhored.  But I’ve still got some quirks:

  • I love guac, but hate avocados.  So I usually mash ’em up with salt and pepper and lemon (and cilantro and hot sauce if they’re on offer), and I do just fine.
  • I love tomatoes, but not raw…unless they’re in a salsa or bruschetta (I told you I was weird).
  • I love mushrooms, but only the forest ones from France and occasionally shitake or portabello.  Not often.  And never, never button mushrooms.  Blech.
  • I only recently started tolerating eggplant (aubergine).  More on this below.

I think that’s about it.  Still, even with my disclaimers around the humble tomato, I cannot live without them.  I simply don’t know how.  I’m from SoCal.  We always had tomatoes when I was growing up, either from my mom’s vegetable patch or from the store.  But in semi-rural France, tomatoes in the winter is a very new concept, indeed, and owing to the fact that everything is labeled, we’re reminded that the tomatoes we eat in the winter are grown in industrial serres – greenhouses – mostly in Spain – and literally loaded with all sorts of not-very-nice things to make them grow when they’re really not supposed to.

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Winter Vegetable Goodness (with a couple cheeky summer veggies for color)…

One of the things Chris and I have agreed is that in years past, while there are lots of things we’ve been proud of, eating locally isn’t always one of them.  Brixton Market was packed with vendors from all over the world – the Caribbean, South Asia, Southeast Asia, even Latin America – so while we indeed tried lots of new-to-us veggies from England, like parsnips and celeriac, we also sometimes found ourselves taking a few of those cute little mangoes from Sri Lanka, a couple chayotes (or cho chos) from Jamaica, or an avocado or three from Spain…

Living in the Philippines gave us an excellent idea of how much eating locally matters – not just to the environment, but also to the quality of the food.  The only comparable disparity between an apple bought in London and one bought in Manila is the reverse scenario including a pineapple…or mango…or banana.  At any rate, you get me.  The point is this:  we would really like to make eating locally a bigger priority, and to that end, I’ve created this entirely haphazard, mostly local (depending on your definition/location – some might say totally local, or not at all!) recipe I put together…it’s so incredibly easy, it’s ridiculous. Serves 4+.

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(Our) Two days in Paris.

In August last year, amidst the madness and nerves that constituted our final weeks and days in London, two of my dearest friends and I agreed that upon our return to France, whenever that may be, they would come to meet me in Paris.  This far-away promise of reuniting with two people I ached to leave set my heart and mind at ease a bit, and I have to say that for the entire time we were in the Philippines, I looked forward with great anticipation to this trip.

It would cover so many bases for me:  I’ve never been on a “city break,” mostly because I find it abhorrent to try and take in a city in a matter of two or three days.  But I’ve been to Paris, and I didn’t have that pressure I associate with a new place – that need to sort of immerse myself culturally.  I missed my friends terribly while I was away, but I also missed just being with girls I could be with…for lack of a better explanation, I could fart in front of these two without blushing.  That’s comfort.  While food isn’t usually the easiest thing for a vegan in France, it’s not a whole lot easier in the Philippines, and I was prepared to quite happily eat salads, bread and wine without a peep of resistance.  But I also needed the chance to re-introduce myself to Paris.  Paris and I have not had the best of experiences in the past.

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