January 21, 2011

There’s been a lot of chatter this month around Cooking Light about vegetables and vegetarianism. Now back in the late 80s, I went vegetarian for about 3 years, a decision which in Alabama was met with the kind of reaction one might get if one showed up at a cotillion ball with Ulysses S. Grant’s great-great-great granddaughter or announced that one was starting to support Notre Dame football. Lots of raised eyebrows with a bit of derisive pity thrown in for good measure. And unlike today, when you can’t swing a whole-grain baguette without hitting some soy-based product at your local Whole Foods, vegetarian options were few and far between, especially when dining out. But ultimately it wasn’t the steady diet of lentils, brown rice, and salads that drove me back to omnivore status, but rather I just missed something: namely, the experience of eating meat.

I mean I absolutely adore quinoa, but perfect protein or not, the Royal Chef of Machu Picchu couldn’t have made it into something that gives you the same satisfaction of noshing on a BBQ rib. Now in my 40+ years, I have come across a couple of vegetable experiences that have approximated the same visceral sensation of consuming meat. One of which was at a Chinese restaurant in Berkeley, CA (

We got a hold of some wild mushrooms a few weeks back from this place called

Caramelized Onion and Shiitake Soup with Gruyère–Blue Cheese Toasts from October 2008 is one of my favorite mushroom recipes (that’s light on meat), and would be perfect this time of year.

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