Tag Archives: Cook

Whole Foods Hates Vegetarians

Kanye West Mike Myers Whole FoodsOur neighbor invited my husband and I over for dinner. She was cooking sea bass with lemon, onions and olive oil in a tagine along with a variety of vegetable side dishes. Since my husband’s a vegetarian and I’d rather him not be left out, I offered to buy a vegan fish fillet that my neighbor could season the same as the real fish and she agreed to do it. So I went to Whole Foods to buy the same fake fish I’ve been buying there for years when lo and behold, Whole Foods has gone mainstream. No longer could I find basic veggie salmon, I couldn’t even find veggie shrimp! The only item they had that was vegan and of the seafood persuasion was a vegan salmon in a sweet chili sauce. I think it even had mango in it.  This tells me three things:

1. Whole Foods thinks vegetarians only eat Asian flavored foods.
2. Whole Foods thinks vegetarians don’t know how to cook.
3. Whole Foods think vegetarians are college students who only own a microwave to reheat food.

Well guess what Whole Foods–I own an All-Clad set! I cook vegetarian at home, am married to a vegetarian and love to cook so I don’t like getting the few vegan meat options to make meat alternative meals taken away! Sure I could make veggie meats from scratch, but I’ll do that when every wing-eater on earth goes out and plucks their own chicken. I already make my own bread, yogurt and butter. Can a girl get a break?! I just want to have the same basic food items available as the customer around the corner who only knows how to cook on her Foreman Grill. Why does that person get to have all the fun of using any sauce for her protein, while all I’ve got is another ginger garlic concoction?

Now some meat-eaters and non-meat-eaters alike will argue that fake meat in and of itself is nasty and weird because it’s fake so I shouldn’t bother and just move on. But isn’t everything we eat made fake?! Beef is grounded into an indistinguishable mound, and in many fast-food chains is given “meat flavoring” to make sure it tastes good. Vegetables are transformed into different shapes to make them seem like something else all the time. Ever had zucchini “spaghetti”? No it doesn’t taste completely like real spaghetti, but when cut into long thin slivers it acts the same in that it holds the sauce in a fun way. And look at all the food transformations being made by celebrity chefs to make one food taste or look like another, or the use of Miracle Fruit to make sour foods taste sweet for one meal.

So why this sudden change of heart Whole Foods? You can’t deny what you started off as. I remember back in Texas when you were run by a bunch of hippies, artists, musicians and people who believe that rock crystal actually work as a substitute for deodorant. Back then your employees actually knew about the products you sold. I liked you when you were crusty. Back then you were a vegetarian’s best friend. Now, I don’t know who you are anymore. I mean it was exciting to see you expand, add more tasty expensive items with a short shelf-life to your aisles, but your changing ways have gone too far. I want my unsauced veggie salmon back, I want faux shrimp, I want my Follow Your Heart Chicken-Free Chicken (which is excellent for making shredded chicken recipes), and I want my old Whole Foods back so I can eat something other than vegetable stir-fry with tofu.

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Thanksgiving with Friends or Family

My friend Dionne hard at work in the kitchen

Can everyone’s younger sibling that still goes on about the tragedy of celebrating Thanksgiving please leave the room? We’re talking Thanksgiving–the All-American feast of food where we reap the rewards of our abundant produce and edible imports from around the world, so that at no given time throughout the year our people are never without avocados or strawberries. Food–it’s our national obsession. To become a citizen it’s required you overindulge in it and watch hours of TV shows watching people eating it, preparing and eating it, and eating it and commenting on eating it. Food is what brought our nation’s people together before killing each other and ripping one group of people from their homes. We don’t even care if food is good on this foodie day, until you’re halfway through a bland mash of green beans and potatoes.

If you’re staying home for the holidays and celebrating with a bunch of “orphans,” your taste buds will most likely be graced with a meal prepared by the best cook, who is most inspired and who resides in the coziest setting. If it’s family, the host is usually the worst cook but she/he is dependable and does it every year and we call it tradition. Of course in this day and age there is also the TDay Potluck or TDay Wild Card/Bi-Polar–as some dishes may turn out heavenly while other recipes cull from a guest’s family’s tradition.

I myself give thanks this year for not having to spend it with family.  If I did, my husband and I would travel to Houston, where my mom takes over cooking duties and as a guest, I can only sit back and give thanks. As someone who loves to cook, it always makes me a little crazy to hand over a holiday with such exciting produce options to my mom who prefers to make everything from a can or box. Not that I blame her too much–the woman has always hated cooking but loves that she has to do it or else…EVERYONE WOULD STARVE TO DEATH!  Obviously this has always been of critical concern:

What I especially find interesting about the family TDay meal is that it somehow always reeks a little of the same dishes mom used to make almost every day of the week. Difference of course being the turkey, cranberry sauce from a can (my mom must have the can-formed rings around the jelly), and the yams from a can covered in marshmallows (as wrong as that is I admit it’s yummy). The rest was same ol’ same ol’.  I’m Cuban so what we had was most likely different from what you had, but trust me when you have the following at least 3 times a week in some kind of random rotation, even if it tastes good, it is not exotic or exciting: picadillo–a kind of Cuban chili my mom would make use of on TDay to stuff the turkey, boiled yuca, mashed potatoes from a box, salad of greens and tomatoes, black beans and rice, tostones (smashed fried plantains–not the sweet kind) or platanos fritos (fried plantains–the sweet kind), a so-called baguette from the grocery store bakery, and for dessert, flan. Now the flan was a thrice yearly thing my sibling and I actually got excited about because as opposed to what you might think from that picture above, my mom never had anything sweet around the house except for maybe frosted corn flakes which we coveted.

My Mom's holiday flan one year. She couldn't find a platter big enough.

No this year, I have chosen to spend it with friends, where the food is always different and tastes festive. Where conversation do not mirror super committee political debates that lead to nowhere and wine always flows. I give thanks this year to staying put and keeping my eye on the food prize. I am American and I will be stuffed!

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