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Comments by YACCS
Thursday, August 31, 2006

Food Cultism

Texas Hot Links

In Defense of Tofu

Ah, the vegetarian paradox. It's an odd state of affairs. Being the guy who snacks on soy, my fellow bread breakers seem routinely fearful that I'll mention the horrific conditions at the overcrowded feedlot their burger came from. Oddly, little interests me less than talking food politics over, you know, food. And yet, I get no end of flack for the tofu on my plate. You'd think I were cutting into a heaping pile of fly-infested cow shit for all the raised eyebrows and snide asides I get. A few things:

• I like tofu. Really, I do. I didn't order it as an implicit rebuke for your burger, or a way of karmically balancing our bill. I just like tofu. It soaks up flavor, is low in fat (so I don't get food comas), and is invariably cheaper. Generous as The American Prospect is, that matters.

• I really like cooking tofu. Much more so than meat. It's clean to handle, doesn't require I scrub my hands in scalding water, and ensures that my inattention and inexperience won't make either of us sick. And, again, it's cheaper, even more so for home use than restaurant consumption. Plus, I make it really, really well. If you're judging my cooking, my comparative advantage almost certainly lies in my skill with soy. I'd be a fool not to display it.

• What's up with the gender politics over dinner? I don't get my masculinity from my plate, I get it by driving my enemies before me, and hearing the lamentations of their women. Do girls get a lot of shit for eating vegetarian? Or is it just us Y chromosomes who people look at like we're slapping on lilac aftershave?

• I'm not judging you. If you think I am, you probably just feel bad about eating meat, and should better reconcile yourself to your culinary choices. The percentage of items on my plate that survived through photosynthesis really has no bearing on the morality of steak.

• Everyone, no matter what they eat, should read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma.

I don't like food cultism. I don't care what it is, raw food, veganism, low carb, South Beach, it's all variations on bullshit to me. Eat less, eat less fat, eat more fruits and vegetables, drink a LOT less soda, and exercise, which I am slowly working around to, and you'll feel better.

Like the Starbucks girls, they could eat pizza every day and put less calories in their bodies than a mochachino frappe whatever. A lot women/girls claim to be vegeterians as well, when they're doing everything not to eat, like smoking, drinking coffee and eating crappy salads while skipping breakfast. Doesn't mean they forget the ice cream from Cold Stone with the brownies, however.

If young Ezra likes tofu, he's in good company. I have no issue with it, and Jen loves a meatless meal.

Now, to be fair, most guys will mock men endlessly for being a vegeterian. We have a friend who was one in high school, three months in college, he was eating burgers and getting drunk like the rest of us. Hamburgers, with beef. And beer. No, Ezra, girls don't get shit for being a vegeterian, because most of us want to fuck them and eat something else, which is amazingly meat like. But if you're with the boys and start talking up tofu, you will take shit. Which is why young Ezra is so defensive. The boys and some of the girls have been wondering about his manilness.

See, but here's the deal, being a vegeterian is fine. Annoying the shit out of people about it is not. Making people accomodate you is not. It is not good manners to go to thanksgiving dinner and have someone make tofurkey for you or to go on about factory farming at the barbecue. And don't go on about health. I know meat eaters who are trim, rarely drink soda or coffee, and never smoke. And vegeterians who do all three. I mean, if you want to be an asshole and get up on a soap box and lecture people, fine. But that's like telling people how to fuck.

Even among bloggers, I'm sure Stoller and Big Media Matt would tease him over dinner, for a laugh if nothing else. But then Kos is a vegan, which I only know because I've actually talked to our leader in person.

Do I think veganism is silly? Sure, just like low carbs and every other variation. It's an artificial distinction in the way of good eating. Just like the fact that I hate most cheeses and yogurt, because I think it taste like vomit. Is that silly? Sure. Oh, I'm going to eat a pound of bacon and eggs, but bread will kill me. Please. Balance, it is balance which matters.

Anthony Bourdain talks about Charlie Trotter's new raw food cookbook. And while he praises how it was designed, he is deeply offended by how it came about. Trotter's co-author was travelling in Thailand and ran into Woody Harrelson, who told them he was on a raw food diet. Bourdain compared this to the American tourist who never eats outside his hotel in Paris. Pure xenophobia. Given the freshness and the quality of Thai cooking, it was bizzare to do this.

My only real beef with vegeterian eating is this: real meat is better than fake meat. I wonder what chemicals people shove into Boca Burgers and Morningstar to make it meatish. If you want meat once in a while, real meat is probably healthier for you in the end, like butter is over margarine.

Oh, and that a lot of "vegeterian" meals are as badly cooked as can be. I mean, one can make a clever meal with vegetables, if one wants to. But not if one has an agenda. Agenda cooking sucks.

But fuck it, I hate rules when it comes to food. Rules and cultism just bug the shit out of me, Just eat what you want and don't pester me about it.

posted by Steve @ 12:04:00 AM

12:04:00 AM

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