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Old 09-02-2006, 09:01 AM   #1
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Frustration at making food for vegetarians...

Please allow me to let off a little steam...

I myself was a vegetarian for one year in my early twenties. I stopped because it became very tiring to have to explain the whys and wherefores every time I went out to dinner and also because, a wine lover, I came to the conclusion that fine wine and vegetarianism do not go together (Château Margaux and a nut roast? - no thank you!).

I am currently receiving some English guests. Two out of three not only do not eat meat, but no eggs or milk products either! What a nightmare!!! Of course, people always insist that "they're not complicated" but, believe me, it is not easy to make formal dinners under such circumstances.

OK, having been prodded, I've come up with a solution for this evening:
- first course: slices of fresh small melon (accompanied by Parma ham for the meat eaters)
- main course: stuffed squash (about the size of a baseball), stuffed tomatoes, and pommes sarladaises (potatoes fried with ceps, garlic, and parsley) served with rice
- cheese (for those who accept to eat it...)
- caramelized oranges

I think the meal will suffer from stuffing without meat, and the absence of Parmesan, but when you welcome guests into your home, you need to make sacrifices some times...

I realize that these people have the perfect right to eat and drink whatever they want (at least they're not teetotal!), but it does make life more difficult and I'm very grateful I don't have to cope with this situation very often!!!

Best regards,
Alex R.


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Old 09-02-2006, 09:35 AM   #2
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im cooking for vegans this week and ifind it refreshing it makes me think to actually cook for them..

and shame on you for saying wine wont fit with it.. OF COURSE wine goes with a lot of veggie meals.!

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Old 09-02-2006, 09:54 AM   #3
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Be careful with this one. I understand your frustration as I have a very picky wife and it's often hard to come up with good meals with what's in the cupboard. She's not vegetarian or vegan, but has an overly sensitive tongue and can't handle many of the spices I love. And her meat must be exceptionally tender, which can be a challenge with only one income in the household.

As for teetotalers, what's wrong with us. I haven't drank any alcohol in about 30 years now. I don't tell others that they can't drink. And I get annoyed at being pressured to do something I neither enjoy or support.

Tell you what, I won't force liverwurst on you if you don't force alcoholic beverages on me. Whadaya say?

Please don't gvet the wrong idea from what I said above. I was just showing things from another perspective. Just as you are annoyed at the difficulty presented by creating interesting meals without meat, there are many other challenges in cooking for those who have special dietary needs or preferences. I choose to take my wife's needs as a challenge to better my cooking and have in fact learned to tailor my meals to provide something for everyone who will be eating them.

For something meatless and supremely satisfying, try cooking a milange of wild and brown rices, both short and long grain varieties, and flavoring with sage, chopped onion, fresh basil, garlic, salt, various peppers, and feshly chopped tomatoes. Add fire-grilled portabellas that have been choped after grilling, and your favorite EVOO. to the mix. Serve with something slighty sweet such as acorn squash, or rutabegga with a touch of brown sugar and butter mashed in (replace the butter with oil if necessary). Put it all together with a green salad.

There are also some very good vegetarian sausages available these days. Try out a couple and see if you find wone you like. Then you can add those to your meals as well. Rather than looking at this as a pain, look at this as a way to expand your cooking skills. You, and your guests will be the better for it.

Seeeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
“No amount of success outside the home can compensate for failure within the home…"

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Old 09-02-2006, 10:05 AM   #4
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I feel your pain, Alex. My daughter's BF doesn't like onion, garlic, olives, mushrooms and half a dozen other things I usually cook with. He also likes his steak well done.
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
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Old 09-02-2006, 10:19 AM   #5
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Your vegan menu would benefit from some vegan protein added to the mix. Rice and legumes (peas or beans, even peanuts) together make up a whole protein. You might just set out a dish of nuts or seeds that your vegan guests can sprinkle into their food as they wish.
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Old 09-02-2006, 10:20 AM   #6
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I never put meat in any stuffings I make for veggies or turkey, etc. Why don't you have a chicken cutlet something for those of you who do eat meat.
I think your main meal might be a bit "light" on quantity for the vegans, unless I just don't understand. And I know vegans eat the starches, but rice and potatoes seems a lot. Can you stuff your tomatoes and squash with something other than bread crumbs--like orzo or couccous and eliminate the rice.
I like Goodweed's ideas of grilling mushrooms (or eggplant) and serving the tomatoes "fresh" chopped/sliced with a vinaigrette maybe.
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Old 09-02-2006, 10:50 AM   #7
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I think you id the best thing in posting to let off your steam, AlexR. I too was a "short term" vegertarian, and although we often eat meals that actually are vegetarian by chance the idea of having to cook for vegans more more than a couple of meals is daunting....more because of thinking about it than because I don't have vegan meals. Although vegan IS a lot harder than vegetarian to be exciting with.

I often resort to curries....my mother's recipe for turnip curry is good year round, with some pilau rice in winter or a salad and fresh fruit in summer. There are a lot of Indian vegetarian recipes which are delicious because you don't lose out in flavour.
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Old 09-02-2006, 11:11 AM   #8
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Thanks for all your interesting replies. I've taken a break from actually making the meal and I'm sure most of you understood the spirit in which I posted


I moved to Bordeaux over a quarter of a century ago. To me, serving a fine aged Claret with a vegetarian meal would be like wearing a tee-shirt and sneakers to dine a first class restaurant, or inviting someone I cared about to eat at a Mc Donald's. Definitely off, and not doing honor to the circumstances. Sorry, the two are incompatible. Oh, I'm not saying it's impossible, or able to be consumed by a doctrinaire vegetarian. It's just that the apex of gastronomy is the mariagne between wine and food, and while a great wine goes with some cheeses, it calls for a meat main course. I don't think many wine lovers would disagree with me here.

Thanks for your comments. I suppose the prospect of a meatless, wineless "company" meal seemed pretty dire to me, but you are dead right. To each their own. The advantage of your preference is that you can just drink water. With vegtarians, you have to plan a whole menu just for them.

You make excellent sense, and I decided not to make the rice.

Thanks for sharing. No one, I'm sure, wants to ostracize vegetarians. But they just don't realize how much of a nuisance it can be to cope with them sometimes!

Best regards,
Alex R.
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Old 09-02-2006, 11:22 AM   #9
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I've cooked vegetarian for hubbie and son for over 15 years; you can make as big a deal of it as you like. There are so many great vegetarian 'meat' products on the market these days, it would be hardly any trouble at all to make some 'chicken' cutlets, say, with some real chicken breasts for the meat eaters, then make a sauce that would serve both.

MorningStar Farms has some fabulous products; they even have 'beef' and 'chicken' cooking strips now, that look like stir-fry size pieces of meat. I've used them in stir fry, and even made 'chicken fried steak' for the guys - and they loved it!

My point being is that if you do a very tiny bit of research, there are products that can accommodate your vegetarian guests quite easily without leaving you stuck in the kitchen for hours.
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Old 09-02-2006, 11:31 AM   #10
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I just realised you are in Bordeaux! They are VERY lucky to have access to actual vegetarian food at all! I thinbk it was living in France that finally cracked my vegetarianism. I was near Toulose as a teenager...and all the roast duck was just toooooooo tempting! I remember my parents relief when I admited I could not do it....my father was fed up of the (in his eyes -understbndable) French raise of the eyebrows when I requested a vegetarian meal at restaurants.

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