the great debate


It’s happening again. I’m spending two days in NYC hiding from my out-of-control life while my sweetheart works around the clock, and we’re having friendly squabbles over where to eat. We’re in the most veg-friendly city in the entire universe (suck it, PETA, you know nothing), albeit in a bit of a dining black hole stuck here in Midtown, and Jacob’s saying things like “They got me take-out from Zen Palate delivered last night just because it was close by, and it was horrible, as I knew it would be. On the upside, I’ve had lunch at ‘sNice three days in a row.” Which is prompting me to say things like “I hereby vow to never go to a veggie restaurant ever again.” Menus have gotten so much better over the years, but there is still so much veggie burger bullshit that I just want to scream. Things are better, but I want them to be perfect.

So we’re stuck in the same place again: Jacob looks at menus of vegan places, and I look at Chowhound and Zagat to find actual good places where we have to ask a million questions. I dream of Ecuadorian llapingachos and Ethiopian breads. Jacob says we should walk the 40-block round-trip to go to Blossom, I say we should walk an equal distance to go to Kalustyans (I like walking when in NYC!). I threaten to bring him lunch from a hole-in-the wall Mexican place with beans and rice with unknowable ingredients, and he gets a scared look in his eyes.

Here’s the best way I can sum up the problem: I want to eat non-white people’s food made by actual people of color. I don’t want to eat “karma noodles” made by a trustafarian blathering on about the life-saving benefits of rejuvelac. I don’t particularly care that you offer Daiya cheese for your sandwich. I’m glad that you have a $24 homemade ravioli entree with cashew cream sauce, but I can make that at home.

I want authentic food that excites me, made authentically vegan.

I just want the whole world to become vegan so they can cook for me, is that too much to ask?

10 Responses to “the great debate”

  1. Randal Putnam

    How about a 99% vegan world with the last 1% craving meat and spending HOURS pouring over the net and menus and asking waiters 100 questions about the possibility of finding some rare critter ingredients to satisfy their freakish desires? Then I could sit back and laugh, as they do, whilst I try to put together nice meals at steak houses I am forced to eat at with clients. I did just put together a nice plate of fried potatoes topped with wild mushrooms and asparagus at The Palm in LA. One upside of these places, though, is the wine, which I must admit is always excellent. Life proceeds apace.

  2. Stephanie

    Seriously. There is something comforting about going to a restaurant and not having to worry about what else is going into the deep fryer as the same time, but I also would prefer to have a new eating experience rather than another bland tofu scramble. One of my favorite memories of India was a restaurant that had an apology in the middle of the menu to let you know that their kitchen was not 100% veg.

    Things are changing, though, ever so slowly. My family just returned home after 3 weeks of vacation – mostly camping in South Dakota, Idaho and Wyoming – and there seemed to be more choices and awareness at both restaurants and grocery stores for vegans (one restaurant in Jackson Hole had icons for vegan and vegan-possible) than I remember from previous trips.

  3. Deb

    So, the Dosa Cart, you know the one that hangs outside Judson Hall?

    “I want to eat non-white people’s food made by actual people of color.”

    It fits your bill.

    (You didn’t specify the need to sit down inside a building, after all!)

    All vegan. Made by an actual person of color. Good stuff. Get there early, it sells out fast!

  4. zoe p.

    Did you see the Met/BMA fashion exhibits on one of your NY trips? Why did I think you might have? You would/should/did? hate the misrepresentation of women’s suffrage . . .

    • lagusta

      Oh, you know, I marked it as a thing to do (yay for clothes!), but I didn’t do anything at all on this trip except see the shows Jacob was working and sit in a hotel room. I have to go back down sometime this month though…did you see it?

  5. Abby

    Yes, definitely get yourself over to to NY Dosas. Grab some Sacred Chow while you’re in the neighborhood, too.

    I haven’t been yet, but Yogi’s Kitchen is supposed to be very vegan friendly Snag a coupon on before you go to save some $$!

    Good luck & good eats :-)

  6. lagusta

    Hmm, good tips! For some weird reason, neither Jacob nor I have ever been to Sacred Chow. Maybe the name just puts me off, but that’s stupid.


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