Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ramblings begin

Here are a few things I have decided to focus on:

I like to read. A lot. The problem is that there is too much stuff to read. Therefore I have decided to focus on the things that really matter to me. On that note, I have decided to fore go fiction, politics, history, biography and such in books. I will now concentrate on Neuroscience ...the brain in particular and Energy issues.This way I can really read up on every good thing coming out and be informed. About the real world stuff, I think looking at some of the websites I go to usually should hold me in good stead. 

The problem is that there is just too much stuff going on. I cannot be interested in everything. I have to get cracking on my studies as well. This is a priority anyways. 

On cooking. I have to make two non-Indian dishes for every Indian dish I cook. This will force me to not only use the cookbooks that are rotting on the shelves; but also improve my cooking skills. After reading Barb Stuckey's book, I have become more conscious of where flavor comes from. Using the fermented products more regularly has already changed how I cook. Using Soy sauce, Tomato Paste, Mushroom Bouillon, Miso, Parmesan Cheese, the MSG+ has made me realize that even a small amount of flavor enhancers can really change the taste.  

I also have to stop eating at Restaurants that are not Vegetarian friendly. Ethnic restaurants are one thing. Going to a Peruvian or Argentinian place and expecting them to have a variety of Vegetarian options is stoopid. Similarly most Chinese, Thai, Mexican etc have mostly meat dishes. But the Vegetarian options at these places are always credible. That is because most of these laces are poor people food from these countries. In the original country, meat is a luxury. Asking for vegetarian at these places is always OK because they can always make you something that is actually authentic. That is the point. It is not some fakeass vegetarian dish. Most people in those countries cannot afford meat anyway and the daily fare is mostly vegetarian anyway. Just like me growing up, that forces people to make their vegetarian stuff tasty. Especially if you are eating meat and want that UMAMI in all the food that you eat, you will figure out ways to make the stuff full of umami. The more I read about the glutamate stuff that the molecular cuisine guys are working on, the more I realize that the East Asians have this figured out. Fermented pickles, Soy Sauce, Miso, Kombu, Shitake, Fish Sauce are all nothing but umami bombs. Add Aged cheese (especially Parmesan) and cooked Tomato paste to the cooking repertoire, I really think that I can achieve the same umami bombs that can be had from eating meat. And I can do that for a lot less calories and be environmentally friendly as well. Win win as far as I am concerned.

OTOH going to restaurants that have entrees in the $15-$25 range and finding only ONE vegetarian option is no longer acceptable. I will only go to restaurants that have at least a third of their menu vegetarian. Otherwise what is the point? I am going to these midscale restaurants as a patron. Therefore I should be going to places that take some care and put in some effort to cater to me. Also, if I go to places that DO do a good job of catering to Vegetarians like me; it is only the right thing to do. It is like when I go to Maxwell St market. Whenever I pass the Oaxacan Tamale place, I get one. That is simply because after asking for it again and again, they have finally started offering Vegetarian Tamales. I should patronize them just for that. 

The second problem with restaurants that do the bare minimum for vegetarians is that the Chef has put no thought on the dish. It is being offered only because they have found that in any group of 4 or more, there will always be a vegetarian. Now the vegetarian may have come there as a part of the group just to not be a killjoy. Vegetarians know that most restaurants do not care about us. The chefs are all focused on their meat dishes. I am not blaming them. 90% or more of their sales is catering to the meateaters. It is that when they put a vegetarian Item on the menu, they have put very little thought into it. After reading Stucky's book, I have come to realize that coaxing the same kind of meaty, brothy flavor from vegetarian dishes is EASY. If you know what you are doing. When you look at the dishes that bring up the caboose of most restaurant menus; you know that there is almost no thought put into that dish. When I have places like Lula's cafe, Grace, Girl and the Goat and such, it makes no sense to go to places that will not do the same for me.

That's all the ramblings for today. I will do more of this ASAP. Make this my online diario.

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