Home > At Play > It’s Just a Picture Perfect Veggie Meal

It’s Just a Picture Perfect Veggie Meal

The perfect meal satisfies three needs: appealing to the eye, tasteful to the palate and delightful to the senses. Seems a simple enough order, especially for the experienced chefs that work their magic in the restaurants in my corner of the world. I enjoy trying different cuisines—Egyptian, Moroccan, Italian, Asian. Eating out is a cheaper way to travel the world than battling the hassle of airport security checks and the occasional mad dash for a flight. Besides, isn’t it better when someone else does the cooking? Usually, yes.

If you’re a vegetarian like me, however, experiencing the perfect meal in a restaurant can be tricky and sometimes flatly disappointing. The prospect of eating yet another tossed salad while my dining companions oooh and aaah over their perfectly executed choices throws me into a Gordon Ramsey-style tantrum (sans dirty curse words). How hard is it to feed one 100-pound vegetarian (who’s not even vegan)? I mean, if I can stockpile a variety of vegetarian cookbooks and magazines in my kitchen for ideas to combat the common salad, why can’t you, Chef?

When I go out to dinner, I want to be delighted. Delight me, please, and I won’t feel so bad about paying the check—and I won’t be that “difficult” customer.

In my defense, I have been provoked on too many occasions:

• Fettuccine swimming in a milky cream sauce that looked more like soup than a pasta dish.

• The giant Portobello mushroom stuffed with—doesn’t matter. Send it back; I detest mushrooms!

• A plate—and entire plate—of partially steamed vegetables. Seriously?

Some servers have had limited exposure to vegetarians and it shows:

When I ask if he can suggest something suitable for vegetarians because I don’t see anything on the menu besides the obligatory penne pasta in tomato sauce. The response? “Of course, here (he points to it), we have a wonderful garden salad.” Um, I can make a salad at home.

• The server proudly suggests a soup that I can have as a starter—French onion soup. Oh, dear.

Then, one day, it happened. I was delighted in the middle of the afternoon. Hubby surprised me with a lunch invitation for no reason. I accept, but secretly I’m skeptical about what to eat, new restaurant and all. Still, it would be a waste of a day not to eat al fresco. Al fresco with the ocean in the background makes everything taste better. Opening the substantial menu, I’m shocked to find something few restaurants offer. Choices. Choices that don’t included salads. Choices that make pique my curiosity. I wonder what that would be like.I finally (the server had to pass twice and time was ticking) decide.

Can food be cool? Especially, lunch food? When my Iron Chef-worthy entrée was brought to the table, I admit, unabashedly, I stared at it. I smiled. I savored the dish with my eyes. I smelled it. And, okay, I took a picture—cheesy, I know. I described every (other) bite to Hubby, who just wanted to eat his fish and chips without all of the commentary. How does one transform miso, wild rice toast and seasonal vegetables into an edible work of art? Nestle it in what I can only describe as a bright, white dinosaur egg, garnish it and serve it with pride. Best of all, it’s not a giant, Portobello fungus stuffed with—who cares?

Beautiful day, great company, inspiring food. That’s a perfect meal.

  1. July 13, 2011 at 1:14 am

    Picture perfect, but where’s the picture?

    • July 13, 2011 at 7:35 pm

      I took a picture, but I didn’t say I kept it. Didn’t mean to tease, but the picture lives in my mind.

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