Vegetables become en vogue
Vegetable-focused and meatless meals are finding wider acceptance and celebration among European chefs, home cooks, and even school children.
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In addition, best-selling author Michael Pollan (“Ominvore’s Dilemma,” “In Defense of Food”) has advocated for an American diet of less meat and more plants. And New York Times minimalist-cook-turned-food-columnist Mark Bittman has recently published “VB6,” shorthand for “vegan before 6 p.m.,” as a life-transforming manifesto he swears by for better health.Skip to next paragraph
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But while environmental and diet advocates have long rallied under the banner of carrots, peas, and beets, it seems that vegetable-based diets are finally catching on at the alfalfa sprout level.
“P.S. 244 in Flushing has about 400 students in pre-K through 3rd grade who now munch on meatless meals every day of the week, and if they’re buying their lunch these days – they’ve gone veggie,” reported PIX Channel 11 at the end of April. “The school started by serving meatless meals three days a week, and gradually increased to four, before announcing they’d dropped it altogether....”
As a culinary renaissance continues to gain momentum in the US with two 24-hour cable channels dedicated to food, scores of food bloggers, and an avalanche of cookbooks infused with ethnic cuisine, the average diner’s palate is reaching a new level of sophistication. And suddenly, more people are open to the possibility of vegetables carrying the main course of a meal.
“We’ve brought so many cultural influences into the conversation,” Diane Morgan, author of “Roots,” told The Washington Post. “The granola-era people weren’t making risotto. They were turning spaghetti and meatballs into something else – the meatballs had brown rice, but they weren’t sophisticated. Now the volume of ethnic cookbooks coming into the conversation changes that.”
Indeed, vegetarian and vegan diets have long culinary traditions in Asian cultures. But perhaps the most stunning sign of a vegetable was recently reported by The Wall Street Journal declaring that, “haute-vegetarian menus are conquering Europe.”
“There is a growing demand for vegetarian dishes from our clientele, which is very international,” chef Christophe Moret of Paris’ Lasserre told the Journal.
Food writer Alexander Lobrano was skeptical of this new direction but even he became a convert once he tasted what highly skilled chefs could do with the humble offerings of the ground. “I am convinced we’ve left the hair-shirt brand of vegetarian gastronomy behind,” he wrote.
Vegetable lovers, rejoice.
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