In a small local store here that specializes in healthy meats, and assorted groceries, I spent way too much time this morning reading a few marinade labels. I was waiting for the three pounds of chicken wings I had ordered for my dog. ( Yes, she eats them raw. No, not quite every day.)
First, I checked the sodium content. I love salty things, but sometimes these products, along with salad dressings, just taste like salt, period. Next, I pondered xanthan gum. It's in many products of this sort, but...
Now, back home, if the Wiki contributor is correct I know that xanthan gum is created when a bacterium ferments sucrose or glucose. How the happy little bacterium does this, I do not know, and why the result helps stabilize sauces and dressings......well.
The marinades contained actual ingredients, too---like garlic, lemon, chiles, sesame oil, ginger, and such. I put them all back. Not so much because of the "gum," but because I realized how silly it was to buy a product containing it, when I can zip together a marinade myself. Of course. I do it. Yes, we can.
And I have bought this kind of thing in the past and hated it on the first taste, thus wasting $5. In these troubled economic times, who needs that?
Annoyingly, however, I discover have no fresh ginger on hand. My marinading as well as my marinating will have to wait a day or two.
So I've been away, traveling up and down the east coast, visiting friends and family, and doing some biz. I pulled into a roadside rest area somewhere in New England with the usual fast food subjects on hand and decided to buy a coffee at Cinnabon.
As I stood in line, naturally I noted and smelled the alluring and catastrophically caloric buns. (730 calories per bun, according to the Internets. ) Now hey--I love to eat something divinely wickedly tasty once in a while. But of late I have been, shall we say, cutting back? So I spotted some tiny versions of the full-sized buns and when it was my turn asked for one, with the coffee.
"Honey, you have to buy 6 of those," said the clerk.
'This, " I blurted out, gesturing melodramatically and then slapping the counter, " is why Americans are so fat!" Rather than calling security, the woman serving me the coffee threw her head back and guffawed with gusto.
"Ain't that the truth, honey, ain't that the truth."
Amazingly, I ate lunch at my second Seventh Day Adventist-inspired vegan joint in almost as many days. This one, Little Lad's, is in Portland, Maine, and it seems that the same fellow started them both--and others. So maybe he likes bland food that features descriptive names but tastes almost exactly the same? ( New Hampshire's stuffed pepper did have a tasty tomato sauce.)
We ate lentil pilaf, Armenian style, "Shepherd's Pie," fresh corn, slabs of potatoes, and salad. I doubt that an Armenian came within an inch of those lentils. The corn and the salad were fine. When I asked for black pepper, I was told that the cooks think pepper is tough on the digestive tract, so no dice. The salt, too, was hidden, but available.
Little Lad's sells perfectly popped and seasoned popcorn in bags that is exceptionally good, I must say. They give you small sample bowls with your lunch and, of course, I bought a bag to take away. (If the popcorn is distinctive, then why is the carb-heavy food so...?)
A fellow blogger who lives near London makes delectable vegan food--as do many others inclined in that direction--so there is no reason for same to be utterly lacking in distinction. Or spices.
For supper in Portland? Gilbert's Chowder House--homemade onion rings! Fried clams with bellies! Oh yes, mighty fine, as a once in a blue moon treat. We neglected to have cole slaw.
Tomorrow I head south, back to the wicked NY/DC metro corridor, where I most likely will not be enticed into another such vegan eatery.
ps Don't miss eating at Flatbread if you are in Portland. Pizzas and ethical stances of distinction.
( Foodie is on the road--DC, NY, VT, NH, ME, NY, DC)
Ah, the nut rissoles one recalls from the earlier days of veggie dining! Along with savoury veg casseroles. Back in the day, veg eateries were few, and the Seventh Day Adventists were just about the only people to be counted on to operate them, especially abroad. Because of their firm belief that the body should be as healthy as the spirit, their food was natural, all vegan, and not terribly exciting or colorful.
Today I had lunch at the SDA-run Country Life Natural Foods restaurant, on a side street in Keene, NH. The buffet offered a full salad bar, with small bowls of tahini, peanut butter, soy egg salad and a fine, startlingly pink dressing made with beets and chives. ( I put cayenne pepper--provided!--on the decent veggie soup.) Stuffed green peppers ( soy stuffed?) with a delicious tomato sauce, corn, sauteed bok choy, and so on. The blueberry-topped "cheese" cake was light and tasty, the peanut butter cookie, superb.
Gentle Mozartian music in the background, hushed voices of a few diners---it was........church-like? The only harsh note was a stack of red and black pamphlets illustrated with a bottle of wine and scary-looking grapes. It denounced the seductive evils of al-kee-hol, as well as caffeine.
(The Bible seems fairly keen on wine, it seems to me, but then, oops, Noah planted a vineyard in that lush alluvial soil, and word has it he did not turn out to be a moderate drinker...)
You may have seen the headline--McD's is thinking of putting one of their joints in the "food court" that serves the Louvre in Paris. I can barely believe I am juxtaposing the words "food court" and Louvre. I haven't been there in a while but hitting a little bistro around the corner would have been my choice, after a morning spent tromping through the galleries. But I need to enter the 21st c., don't I? Apparently the Champs Elysees McD's is the most successful in the entire McD universe.
Gourmet Magazine, on the other hand, must not be shining brightly enough for Conde-Nast. It is ceasing publication of the ancient ( est. 1941) food journal by the end of this week, astonishingly. The company's Bon Appetit--less grand, less precious, more accessible? will carry on, for the moment.
My mother subscribed to Gourmet for several years in the 1970's, but the real Conde Nast star in our house was always The New Yorker. I've been reading it since I could read, and love it still.
I , for one, am grateful that we bipedalists moved on from large canine-flaunting males as sexual partners to males knowing their way around seared Ahi tuna sandwiches with wasabi mayo.
( Thanks to ABC News et al, "Artist's conception of what Ardipithecus ramidus would have looked like 4.4 million years ago." J.H. Matternes/Science/ABC News Photo Illustration)