There’s common misconception that vegan food tastes like cardboard and poor life choices. Honestly, this reputation is well earned because there are way too many folks in my life who chuck a metric ton of romaine or kale down their throats wrapped in Ezekiel bread (worst.stuff.ever.I’m sorry y’all, it is. And got the nerve to go bad in .02 seconds!) and declare it the best thing they’ve ever tasted.
As a woman who grew up in a tsunami of spice, I was really concerned that going vegan meant the end of taste as I knew it. Especially since so many people seem preoccupied with ‘replacement cooking’… that is to make things taste like they have meat in them (which confuses the point for me, honestly). Even visits to vegan restaurants (the ‘curry’ at Gratitude Cafe is cute… but no cigar) left me wanting. After dropping significant coin with a friend at the Gadarene Swine (good food… frustrating portions… and honestly I wanted another meal afterwards), I can see how vegan food earned this stereotype.
Cue the Wellness Cleanse. I swear that thing saved my life, because it was so refreshing to be exposed to a world of food choices that didn’t always have to involve kale, pine nuts and way too much cashew cheese (I remain mystified about why people wax on about Sun Cafe’s Colossal Kale Salad. Because… nope). Because in the practice of ‘crowding’ food that stares me in the face every time I walk into a grocery store (but that I never noticed because, habit), I opened up to a world of possibility. I also remembered one extremely important fact:
I KNOW HOW TO COOK!
Thank you Grandma, Mom, and all of my “aunties” who showed me how to do the damn thing in the kitchen! Especially with Indian food. Now, left to my own devices, I’d probably curry everything or turn every rice dish into some version of Biryani, but I’m working to diversify. Cue Tremella Mushroom ‘noodles’ and all the possibilities that come with it, and topping cool kale (I know, I know), with warm Basmati and grilled vegetables. The other thing with me is TIME. I cannot spend a majority of my day (or my life) in the kitchen. So food has to be quick to prepare, without ingredients that require hitting up a corner store in Nepal, and it has to taste good. And it has to fill me up because I really can’t be bothered with eating all damn day.
There is so much to choose from and so much to eat, and it makes a difference if you know what good food is supposed to taste like. If you’re used to bland rigamoro, you probably don’t want to sit down to dinner with me. I’m all about that SPICE! 😀 I made some lentils with a puree red potato base… smh. This is why you can be a fat vegan. It was SO GOOD, but damn if you didn’t have to roll me away from the table when I was done!
Vegan food can be amazing. It can also be raggedy, like that friend who can ruin a regular green salad every.damn.time. You put her in charge of the salad at the cookout because no one is going to eat it anyway. Since the time I witnessed someone put asparagus and broccoli in spaghetti sauce (I was polite and tried it anyway, and it was awful), I knew that cooking is a necessary life skill. You can’t just poop out a dish (wait, that’s not true… yes you can) and hope for the best. Good food requires some thought, and taste matters.
At least it does to me.