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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

All things Vegetarian - Buss Em Out Wednesday!!! Reflections

I am trying to think of a day when I would have conversed with self and made a deciosn to be a vegetarian. Umm, you know I'm not quite sure what that decsion would be but before writing this blog that answer would have been a resounding NO!!!! Sorry, I don't think that was clear enough, OH HELL NO!!! To all my fellow carnivores, no I'm not desenting...I man love eat meat still...nutin sweeter to me than some plump pig tail and salt beef in a my stew peas...Jah know, I have to powda some bone (chew bone to fine mush, thus extracting all the delish juices and marrow) after mi done eat some lawd nuh mention nutin bout di bbq ribs dem or braised short ribs - Guiness glazed anyone, oh my!! Is lick off finga biznis dat man.

Alas, before I digress too much for I wanted to talk a little about 'All Things Vegetarian' on the Buss Em Out Wednesday Series.  I am quite certain that because of the way I am conditioned, doing an all vegetarian meal was always a far away thought. I think meat first and I'm quite certain I am not the only chef that thinks that way. So me thinking of exotic vegetables and casting them as supporting cast members shouldn't really be a surpise, now I'm thinking. What I can say though is that the power of suggestion can be a wicked thing especially when made with love of course :-). It was suggested to me recently that I should really do pieces that focus on vegetarian offerings and to even go a week where I made all vegetarian meals, eat them and write about about it. Ugggggghhh!!!Did you not just feel that twinge of pain in my heart, immediate withdrawl symptoms are upon palms are clamy, I am sweating purfusely..hold on a sec, I need to have a Chimichurri burger right now..Ok, it may not be that serious, but crazy thoughts come up when I think about that. But you know, I'm gona do just that, but I really need to condition my mind. That's like telling me there is no more rum I should drink Gin or Vodka..Nooooooooooo!!! Hell and powda house in a di place mi a tell yuh..
Parsnip Quinoa w/ sauteed Bbeet greens,
Coconut Beet Puree, Coconut parsnip puree
Cactus Prickly Pear & Date Compote
Parsnip crisps
So on wednesday, my main ingredients were: Quinoa (undisputable king of protein, has all 8 essential vitamnins), Parsnips, Long Hot peppers, Cactus Prickly Pear, Red Beets and Dates supported by parsley, green onions, coconut milk. Now just to be clear so you understand the selections if you don't already, my aim on Buss Em Out wednesdays is to work mostly with ingredients I don't work with at all or rarely ever. And when I go to the market to pick up the ingredients I don't have too much of a conceived idea of what it is that I am going to make or even how I'm going make it. Nonetheless, the work continues and we fast forward. I came up with a game plan and executed what I contrived in my "creative mind". So here's what I found to be true, at least for me anyway when it came time to putting the dish together. For all presentations the ingredients are assembled to form a cohesive interpetation of the idea of  the chef and I had to think hard about how to assemble everythiung so the dish would say "I want to eat this vegetarian dish and love it". Yes, I make great vegetarian dishes but ask any vegetarian that goes out to dine what their concern usually is and it always comes back that they want to have a full meal and a variety of choices. Treat me like a meat eater damn it!!!! I think I will be checking out Sublime restaurant here in Ft. Lauderdale soon. But what I find in most restaurants, correct me if I am wrong, is that unless there is some ethinic or cultural (Indian, Italian, Meditarreanean etc.) asscoiation with the food, the choices are not many...well as entrees. So unless you're having Mezze and Tapas - all small individual offerings - where you would put them together for a filling meal, then I guess you're having a salad then. Yes there ae now more great vegetable choices because of the involvemnet of local farmers in the organic and non-organic arena. Sustainable foods, farm to table, slow foods movements are providing us with great variety and choices and chefs are getting on board all over.
So exactly what am I saying? Growth of a Chef..sounds familiar?  I am always thinking about food and ways in which I can create new dishes and vegetarian dishes are part of that repertoir. I have even thought about several ways in which I could have done the dishes I made last week differently or even better. The Idea of living a vegetarian or Vegan lifestyle is certainly not new to me. As a child growing up for me that meant seeing Ital Food (no meat and mostly no salt) being prepared by the Rastafarians. I just remember it being an amazing thing to make kick ass dishes with coconut milk, herbs and spices. It's a food tradition I might not have indulged as they did but I'm certainly not invoking ignorance here. My lifestyle of being a meat eater was certainly taught to me as a child and as an adult I continue to follow that lifestyle. As a chef I have always thought of vegetables as sides and I have to say that my exercise during Buss Em Out Wednesday has allowed me to think differrently and I know there is tons of room for more development or just Develop more dishes. Sadly, even as I write this dissertation I find myself yearning for some Mondungo soup - that would be tripe soup - so rich, so decadent...bring that big spoon to my lips and sluping that hot brothv chewing on some soft meat just so I can give my approved satisfaction...BUUUUURRRPPPPPP!!! Tenk yuh Jesas!!!!  Hmmmhm :-) My thoughts exactly!!!

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