April 24, 2014

The forgotten herbivore

And a first – the “Ides of March” being the first *herbivore dining club!
*lacto-herbivore or vegetarian 

A friend recently pointed out how I very rarely overtly provide for “lacto herbivores”. She hit a nerve, I do focus more on the “carnivore”, but being a keen omnivore I do have many herbivore recipes. My impulsive response was that I felt the  use of the word “vegetarian” a bit of a turn off.  Being a well read, vegetarian, Head Teacher, my friend spent 30 seconds pondering my response and then said “herbivore”. I was inspired and 2012 will see advances in a herbivore presence on my website. Thanks Tracey!

Back in the days of hippies, Spare Rib and worthy living, the cooking bibles for vegetarians were Rose Elliot, Cranks and Sarah Brown. Bar the Mushroom Stroganoff in the original Cranks, most the recipes were “heavy”.

In the late 90′s and naughties along came Delia, Leith’s, various generic publishers, BBC Good Food etc with their vegetarian recipe books. Linda McCartney championed veggie ready meals – no comment! For me they were all good but lacked true inspiration. When  I first set eyes on the window of  Yotam Ottolenghi‘s and Sami Tamimi’s first shop in 2002, I had a “Damascus” moment. Their food looked amazing. There was meat and fish, but my senses did not differentiate between herbivore or omnivore dishes – I just wanted to eat and recreate it all.

Yotam Ottolhingi does not differentiate between the main ingredients in his dishes – they just are. I compare his approach to recipes to my approach to feminism. I am a feminist, but I don’t want to be catagorised for it. It does not warrent catorgarising. Men and women are different but we should expect to be treated the same. I feel the same about vegetarians and vegans. They just happen not to eat certain proteins for whatever reason. They or their food does not need to be treated any differently!

Anyway, without wishing to go on too much about Yotam, his books and shop windows are an inspiration, his recipes taste delicious and are very “pleasing on the eye”!

Since Yotam,  Allegra  McEvedy (formerly chef at Leon) has produced yummy, inspirational dishes without animal protein. Hugh Fearnely Whittingstall’s passion has moved from meat to fish  and now to vegetables, plugging into our fervent delight in seasonal and grow your own! His recipes are fab, mostly use ingredients in your storecupboard, and generally work. Curiously most of these recent people have or are contributors to the Guardian food pages.

So, on the back of friends comment: