The Unwelcome Veggie
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Vegetarians are traditionally despised by the great chefs of the world and I really can't say that I'm surprised. It's great to have principles but the trouble with most veggies is that theirs tend to ruin everybody else's social life. When you're planning a dinner party and a veggie is on the guest list, protocol demands that everybody else has to suffer in case their feelings are hurt. So gorgeous stuff like pate, roast chicken or wine-soaked casseroles get ditched in favour of bland and boring meatless fare. Countless evenings have been destroyed by my unthinking friends of the four-legged.
I well recall a pal of mine spending hours slaving over a vegetarian shepherd's pie for a supper watching the Oscars ceremony. In the end, our veggie companion got a better offer and we joylessly scoffed the cheese-topped lentils and mash which had been cooked on her behalf. Such selfishness is quite common as vegetarians aren't normally that interested in eating, anyway. It's even worse if you're planning a meal out. Even if there are 20 of you involved, all have to defer to the herbivorous one. And you will probably find 90 per cent of places are ruled out as they don't have a menu designed for the non-carnivorous.
At least in the UK, most curry houses and pizzerias will have sufficient fare to keep everyone happy. But do NOT under any circumstances go on holiday abroad with a veggie. It's just unheard of in places like Greece where even the butter beans are cooked in meat stock and boy do I know it as a friend of mine played hell the night she found out. Spain's fine as long as veggies are prepared to eat tortilla for a fortnight (and most basically are not). In France, you'll get an omelette and frites and nowt else.
New York chef Anthony Bourdain, whose Kitchen Confidential topped the best seller lists last year got it right. He said: "If someone wants to pay 20 dollars for a couple of slices of grilled zucchini and aubergine then that's just fine by me as it subsidises all the others who want to eat proper food. Just don't inflict the stuff on me."
-- ELEANOR D'OLIVEIRA
REPLY FROM 'RM'
Despite being a vegetarian, I agree with a point raised by Eleanor D'oliveira in her article about dining out as, or with, a vegetarian. I think *some* vegetarians can be inconsiderate when eating out with meat-eating friends. But don't start generalising that to the majority of us who are happy to compromise a large selection of vegetarian products for the option of either a salad or plate of rice and our friends' happiness.
It can be an absolute pain trying to find somewhere where a vegetarian can buy a nice meal but I also believe that this is true of all tastes. E. D'oliveira makes out in her article that vegetarians are the only people who cause problems when choosing a restaurant and if it weren't for us, everyone would have no problems in finding somewhere everyone agreed on. When trying to find a restaurant for my social group, in which there are 12, we have to take into account that half the people like spicy food, the other half don't, 4/5 like Chinese food, the other 1/5 don't, etc.. In addition, 90% is a great exaggeration of restaurants that don't offer any meat-free meals.
Eating abroad isn't as hard as you think. It's true that the variety is far less, but then, isn't that so in this country? I've visited different countries in Europe and have very easily been able to find a great vegetarian meal in the same place that my meat-eating travelling partner found an amazing chicken dish.
Vegetarians seem to be targeted as annoying dinner party guests or social eating friends who are out to spoil everyone's feasting fun. People have different tastes and if you didn't like vegetables on your plate, we wouldn't whine on about it. The bottom line is, if you're not prepared to cook for them/compromise on the restaurant, don't invite them and stop moaning!
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